Monday, February 20, 2012

Who Killed the Curate?

WHO KILLED THE CURATE?  Joan Coggin (1944)

Who Killed the Curate? introduces Lady Lupin Lorrimer Hastings, the beautiful, dutiful new wife of Andrew Hastings, vicar of St. Mark’s in the tiny town of Glanville.  Lady Lupin tries her best but she really isn’t cut out to be a vicar’s wife, having only a nodding acquaintance with affairs ecclesiastical.  As she puts it, she’s still struggling to distinguish the Jews from the Jesuits.  When she joins Andrew’s flock the formidable ladies of the town, and there are several, set their sights on her, intent upon securing Lady Lupin as the prize recruit for their various organizations.  What should Lady Lupin do?  Should she head up the Temperance Society?  The Mothers’ Union?  The Girl Guides?  The Sunday School?  The competition is fierce.  The only thing the women of Glanville can agree upon is their dislike of the unpopular curate, Mr. Young.  When he’s murdered, Lady Lupin and friends set out to solve the crime.

 Alright, let’s just get this out of the way at the beginning:  there’s absolutely no detection in this detective novel.  Everything is left for the big reveal at the end, in which a parishioner’s secret returns to haunt him/her, but you would never have guessed who or what or why because there just aren’t any clues.  HOWEVER, I’m going to read the other three books featuring Lady Lupin.  I’m willing to forego the absence of an adequate amateur detective (and any actual detection) because the book was a brilliant depiction of small town life and the jockeying for eminence among the inhabitants.  The dialogue is hilarious.  I cannot resist a book that makes me laugh out loud.  And at 157 pages (in the Rue Morgue Press edition), it’s not like you’re investing much time.  You’ll be smiling when you put down this book, as long as you start reading with the understanding that detection is not its strong suit.

Joan Coggin's Who Killed the Curate is one of my entries in the Golden Age Girls category of Bev's Vintage Mystery Challenge.


  1. I've only read one Coggin book myself...and you're right I enjoyed it more for the fun than for the mystery. I've got Dancing with Death on the docket for this year (for a challenge other than the Vintage Mystery--it doesn't fit any of my categories....). Glad you had fun with it.

  2. We could all use some reading right now. After reading the news this morning, I'm inclined to order the rest of her books right now.