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Murder Before Matins

Murder Before Matins - John Reeves John Reeves composed religious music, which is why it's not surprising the second book in his series with Inspector Andrew Coggin and Sergeant Fred Sump of the Metro Toronto Police was 1984's MURDER BEFORE MATINS, a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award.

The story is set in the cloistered world of Tathwell Abbey where the Prior is found murdered and suspicion falls on the entire order of Gilbertine nuns and monks who live in seclusion there. When Coggin, Sump and Constable Nancy Pringle are assigned to the case, they learn the victim was destined to be made Abbot and that even allegedly holy people are capable of dark ambition and violence.

In an interview from 1986 in Books in Canada, Reeves acknowledged that he lost his faith gradually, partly because of a "disillusionment with the institution of the Church." Even so, Murder Before Matins is a sympathetic portrayal of monastic life and includes a subplot of Constable Nancy Pringle's own struggles with her faith.

Reeves' mysteries are less about suspense typical of other police procedurals and more in the traditional puzzle-solving detective fiction (he even works in lists, diagrams, puns and one crossword puzzle in each novel). "Books in Canada" aptly wrote that "If Sherlock Holmas and Dr. Watson are respectively brilliant and dim, Andrew Coggin and Fred Sump shed light on crime about equally, less like a priest and acolyte than a happily married couple. Coggin is good at sifting details and making deductions; Sump is intuitive, disarming, a shrewd judge of character."