I really don't remember how The Pew Group ended up at my house. Did my sister-in-law send it to me? Did my mother drop it off? Did I pick it up at a garage sale? How am I so absent-minded?
Well, it doesn't really matter, I suppose: here it is.
And, so, what to do?
I read it.
And: it's delightful!
The conventions, such as they are, for a murder mystery, are pretty clear: there is a crime; there is a detective; there is a solution.
Oliver stands this all upon its ear.
Oh, there's a crime, alright. But Oliver has no interest in that; in fact, he gets it out of the way with the very first sentence of the book:
You couldn't call it murder and she had no intention of doing so.
And so, off we go.
There are crime(s), there are detective(s), there are clue(s), but really, in the end, none of that matters.
What interests Oliver is what people do, when there are Things To Be Done.
Rarely in my experience has a book with so little plot had so much activity! And what lively characters, in boring, piddly, mundane Flaxfield, Suffolk, U.K.
The doctor is little interested in medicine; the vicar little interested in theology; the constable little interested in law enforcement; and, so forth.
All I can say is, if you bother to track down this little gem in some long-forgotten dusty corner of some second-hand bookshop somewhere: you have never had so much fun reading a story about a lost porcelain figure from a Sunday church sale:
He picked up a small piece of white pottery lying on its side near a brass ashtray. It was crudely but endearingly fashioned with three little figures sitting stiffly on a high backed settle not unlike the oldest family pews in St. Peter's. He knew the vicar had a small collection of English pottery; it would be quite nice to buy it for him although perhaps it wasn't quite the same as the ones he had seen on the vicarage mantle-shelf, they seemed to have more colour to them, with little branches of green leaves sticking out behind them.