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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick.

What Readers Like Best, Thoughts From a new Review

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ April 27, 2012

It's always an open question— what's most important in how readers react to your novel: setting, plot, characters. . . ?

I most often choose what I'll read on the basis of background. I want to read a book set in a place where I want to spend time. Perhaps that relates to the escapism function of literature. But at the end of the day, no matter how much I love the place, if there aren't people I like there I won't finish the book.

That's one of the reasons I was so delighted with this new review A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH just received from reviewer MK McClintock on "Avid Reader's Haven":

Let me begin by saying that I found this book both, interesting and enjoyable - simply put, I liked it. Let me explain. I know nothing of Catholicism, very little of the Church of England, or to be honest, a majority of the religious references and history mentioned in this book. Before reading, I was aware that I would run into a lot of unfamiliar information and I believe that is what allowed me to enjoy the book as much as I did. There were times when I felt there was too much delving into the religious aspect, but I read those sections more like I was in a university class, so I found it interesting.

Antony was by far my favorite character. He's kind, chivalrous and unassuming, but certainly not boring. His humble demeanor was balanced out with noticeable charm and I found myself smiling each and every time he winked or grinned at Felicity. Our heroine, Felicity was an enigma in the first third of the book. I couldn't decide if I liked her or was just putting up with her. As the story progressed, Felicity proved to be a worthy heroine - a modern personality warring with the search for some higher purpose. She found her footing halfway through and began to show her strength and determination. Her personality seemed to shine through more as the story progressed and I became immersed in both the intellectual and romantic relationship between her and Antony.

Then there's the murder and mystery - well plotted, well developed and not entirely predictable. I'll admit that one of the culprits was a complete surprise to me. I had gone along thinking I knew everyone who did it and where I figured out most, I appreciated that the author could twist enough to keep me on my mental toes.

The amazing amount of research the author did for this book is apparent. In fact there were passages when I felt I was being taught - for some readers that may be a bother, so read the book knowing what you're getting into. If I hadn't known, I may not have enjoyed it as much. As it was, I finished the book in a few days because it held my attention and I was interested in the outcome. This is the second book of the Monastery Series and not having read the first yet, I can't say how one flows into the next, but I would recommend this book to any intellectual reader who enjoys a good whodunit and learning something in the process.

I would love to hear from my readers— What's the most important element to you in choosing a novel?


Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.

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Reader Comments:

Now I'm really missing Antony and Felicity. I need to get this book, Donna!
Nice review!

I agree about choosing a book based on setting, and that includes time period. I read very few contemporaries unless they are set in an area I like, or happen to be written by an author I am familiar with. Your books have a great combination of history and setting and genre!
-Debra E Marvin, April 27, 2012

Thank you, Debra. I love the idea of missing Antony and Felicity. I often feel that way about fictional characters I love. I think that must be the feeling that gives impetus to later author continuing series from others--such as those who continue to write about Elizabeth and Darcy.
-Donna, April 27, 2012

Congratulations, Donna, on such a thoughtful, interested review. Isn't it great when a reader cares enough to actually think about one of your books, rather than just race through and pronounce "good" "bad" or some other one word comment. It's real balm in Gilead, (so to speak!) when a reader wants to continue the conversation. Great stuff.
-Dolores, April 28, 2012

Agreed, Dolores. And, amazingly, this is from a reviewer I connected with on Twitter--which seems like such an impersonal forum to me. Careful readers are definitely God's gift wherever you find them!
-Donna, April 28, 2012

I'm looking forward to reading your Elizabeth and Richard mystery series. You write with a nice balance of fiction and history.
-MK, April 28, 2012

Thank you so much, MK. Elizabeth & Richard are romantic suspense--somewhat lighter than the Monastery Murders. Each book has a literary figure in the background: Dorothy L Sayers in book 1, Shakespeare in book 2. I'm planning jane Austen for book 3.
-Donna, April 28, 2012

What a great review, and what an interesting question. I think characters come first for me, though I must admit I've picked up a few books because the settings intrigued me.
-Sheila Deeth, April 30, 2012

And isn't it interesting, Sheila, that as hard as we work on our plots, they aren't necessarily the first thing a reader will mention.
-Donna, April 30, 2012

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