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Publisher's Summary

Murder and smuggling, conspiracy and treason - can Reverend Hardcastle catch a killer?

Kent, 1796. Shocked to discover a dying man on his doorstep - and lucky to avoid a bullet himself - Reverend Hardcastle finds himself entrusted with the victim's cryptic last words. With smuggling rife on England's south-east coast, the obvious conclusion is that a dodgy deal has gone wrong. But why is the leader of the local Customs service so reluctant to investigate?

Ably assisted by the ingenious Mrs Chaytor, Hardcastle sets out to solve the mystery for himself. But smugglers are not the only ones to lurk off the Kent coast, and the more he discovers, the more he realises he might have bitten off more than he can chew.

The Body on the Doorstep is the first Reverend Hardcastle mystery by A.J. MacKenzie.

©2014 Adam and Charlotte Guillain. (P)2016 Bolinda

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  • 04-28-18

A romp with a rector

I really enjoyed this book and not because it was inspiring or thought-provoking but because it was entertaining. It’s lighter-than-air detective fiction, but I don’t think it has pretensions to be otherwise. It’s one of those stories that just trots along at a comfortable pace, with endearingly fallible characters and comes to a satisfactory, if far-fetched, conclusion.

The creation of the irascible, drunken rector as the prime mover whose decent into the bottle is because of historically thwarted ambitions is a fine one, and I thoroughly applauded his belated victory at the end. Pairing him with a young female widow worked well, although I would have preferred a less predictable choice such as the character of Miss Godfrey, one of a pair of ‘Sapphic lovers’ who have a taste for intrigue and brandy laced tea.

The historical background adds interest: smugglers, revolutionaries and Jacobins, all set in and around the Kent marshes. The plot is lively and has great pace with enough pleasing twists and turns to keep you interested but not frustrated. The Poirot-style gathering to expose the guilty parties at the end was, frankly, laughable but at no point were we expecting any particular deviation from the standard formula.

My aunt would have called this a chewing-gum read and I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed each mastication.

Ric Jerrom is a brilliant narrator - such depth and tone - just great.