|The Rev Polly Hewitt
(creator:Janice B Scott)
|The Rev Polly Hewitt is the Rector at Anglesham, a supposedly quiet (fictitious) village in East Anglia, just 8 miles from Norwich. She is in charge of four parishes. She is 34 years old and it is her first appointment as a Rector. As we are told in a previous book, she had been ordained (as was the author) in Norwich Cathedral, and had then served her curacy in another group of parishes in Norfolk. Her adventures there are described in Heaven Spent (2010) and Babes and Sucklings (2010), but she does not do any detective work in those books!
She has blond curls that were "wild at the best of times" and is overweight with "outsize boobs" and is a feisty young woman, with "a decidedly wicked sense of humour .... an exciting livewire, terrific fun and with a huge personality but with the sort of impulsiveness that often led her into trouble". She was not the type that the Rev Susan Gallagher, her friend and mentor, thought might be best suited to village life. But she was "a people person, with a natural warmth and an ingenuous openness which invited confidences and brought out the protective instinct in older people. Blessed with an outgoing personality, Polly was never shy and rarely at a loss for words."
The Rev Janice B(easant) Scott was born in Rugby in Warwickshire but grew up in South London. She won a scholarship to Croydon High School fior Girls and subsequently trained as a physiotherapist. She was ordained priest in Norwich Cathedral in 1994, then became curate of a large city parish in Norwich before becoming Rector of a rural benefice of six parishes. She became Rural Dean in 2003 before moving on to take a MA in Pastoral Theology with the Cambridge Theology Foundation and to become an Honorary Canon of Norwich Cathedral.
She started writing for Redemptorist Publications in the 90s and has gone on to publish stories for children as well as a series of novels featuring The Rev Polly Hewitt. The third of these, Vengeance Lies in Wait (the first of the three in which she really emerges as a clerical detective) is reviewed below. She is married with two daughters and a son (all grown up now), and lives in Norwich.
The author makes good use of her own experience in bringing the church setting to life, although whether a latecomer in her congregation would ever "stand up (just after her first sermon), glare at her with an expression of extreme distaste, then slowly and ostentatiously with his head held high and that fixed expression of disgust on his face, stalk back down the aisle and out of the church" is open to doubt - but you never know. Polly, though, is understandably upset: "Tears welled up which she fought to contain. She was a professional. No way could she let her feelings be known, but she was unable to control the trembling which threatened to engulf her whole body."
Episodes like that of a 17-year-old girl running away from home seem quite convincing, although murder and baby-smothering must, it is to be hoped, be rather outside a rector's usual day's work.
Polly's awkward relationship with the difficult Oswald, the ordained local minister and schoolmaster, who had obviously thoroughly enjoyed been "practically running the place single-handed" for the 18 month interregnum is vividly described (as when he tries to insist on taking a funeral, but she is convinced that it is something she really ought to do), as are her problems in dealing with other members of her congregation who take to pouring ink over her cassock or leaving her a barbie doll, made to look just like her, but with pins stuck all over it. "God, what's going on here?" she prays,"Is it me? Am I somehow attracting evil? What am I doing wrong? And what about introducing change? How am I going to do that when they're so opposed to anything I suggest?"
The author had the enterprise to publish the book herself on Kindle, and this explains why there is an occasional self-published look about the text when the font suddenly changes (as between chapters 19 and 20, or towards the foot of page 208) for no obvious reason. But Polly herself makes a determined detective: it is she who tracks down two hidden vans with their gruesome contents. The story may seem to wander along at first but gets much more gripping from the point where she has to stop a funeral mid-way and gets on the murder trail that eventually leads to her life being threatened. You can't complain that nothing happens in this book! And the church background is very well handled.
|The rather oddly coloured cover is simple but effective.|