In A Death in Duck by Mindy Quigley, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding is getting ready for the Christmas holidays. She is going be maid of honor for Anna, her doctor friend, who plans to get married on New Year’s Eve at the beach resort town of Duck, North Carolina. Thus, Lindsay intends to spend Christmas with her Aunt Patricia Harding, with whom she lived as a child during her parents’ incarceration and who lives near Duck. However, when Lindsay arrives at her aunt’s house, she gets a most unwelcome surprise: Her mother, who is wanted by police in connection to a recent local murder, has been living with Aunt Harding for the past two or three months. Then the next morning Kipper, her mother’s doberman, leads Lindsay to a shed where she finds the body of her aunt shot dead. In a panic, her mother, Sarah Bell, takes off, leaving Lindsay to deal with the police alone.
Lindsay then goes through drama in her life as the police, led by her detective boyfriend Warren, search for the killer. The cops suspect they know the identity of the murderer: Leander Swoops. The man is Lindsay’s mother’s former, and possibly current, boyfriend who tried to kill Lindsay and her father in the prior book, Murder in Mount Moriah. In addition, Lindsay has to deal with Anna, who has suddenly turned into a bridezilla at the encouragement of her mother.
The drama turns into a farce when Lindsay’s best friend, Rob, asks her to play his wife when his mother come to visit from Taiwan. He is the only one of her friends to have a committed, healthy relationship, but the only problem in his mother’s eyes is that his long-term, stable partner is a man and not a woman. So in fear of his mother’s rejection, Rob has told his mother that he married Lindsay six months earlier, forcing Lindsay to play the wife while dealing with all the problems going on around her.
A Death in Duck has several unique aspects to this book. For one thing, few cozy mystery feature an ordained minister as the protagonist, and I’ve never encountered a hospital chaplain or even other employees of a hospital in a cozy mystery. This offers the opportunity to show a different side of human nature and different approach to connecting with people. Lindsay shows herself to be a strong, resourceful woman who never lets all the chaos in her life get the better of her.
The plot has many strands, making the book a challenge to summarize but fun to listen to. Many details don’t seem to be relevant to the murder case and seem just to add flavor to the book, and then they turn out to have importance in the solution. But other details simply work to make the book fun and full of the details of life.
I thought it refreshing that Quigley made one of the main characters to be a gay man. Few cozy mysteries have any gay characters, probably wanting to avoid controversy. But modern life has many gay people wherever one goes, so having gay characters reflect reality.
My one warning to potential readers is for anyone who does not believe that gay people should serve as ordained pastors. Rob is not only a gay man, but the chief chaplain at the hospital. His mother is a much more religiously conservative person who believes that homosexuality is a sin. She gets portrayed as close- minded and ignorant, though she is not shown as a bigot. So if someone feels uncomfortable with gay people as church pastors, this book might leave such a person uncomfortable. However, the book’s strengths may be good enough to inspire such readers to try this book anyway.
Holly Adams performs the audiobook version of A Death in Duck. I really enjoyed the sound of her voice and the expressions she uses in her presentation of this book. She uses effective accents, including different forms of North Carolinian speech and Taiwanese. Adams’ intonations serve to enliven this already adventurous book and make the experience of listening to it highly enjoyable.
I greatly appreciated getting to listen to A Death in Duck. The book was creative, with many strands of mystery to the book. It’s particular strength is in the fun characters with whom we thoroughly connect. I really loved how human Lindsay seems, with her good and bad sides. I felt that Lindsay’s character was uniquely described by the following prayer she gives: “God, help me to trust that you have given me all the tools I need to get through this.” This woman both works hard on her own and trusts the Lord to assist her in life’s challenges. I give this book five stars!
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