Murder in the Second Pew Amazon Review
Sharon Lippincott, Chilehead Adventurer
5.0 out of 5 stars
Splendid mixture of steam and suspense
January 4, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Reading K.P. Gresham's Matt Hayden series is as addictive as chocolate. I recently read The Pastor's First Murder. No way did I want that story to end, so I immediately opened Murder in the Second Pew. The second story continues the spine-tingling suspense, clear up to the unexpected twist at the end. I don't know which is more compelling, that suspense or the electric tension between pastor Matt Hayden and Angie O'Dell, and stunning Angie O'Day, the owner of the Fire and Ice House tavern.

Murder in the Second Pew builds on mysterious relationships outlined in the first volume of the series, drilling down to disclose layers of the secrets that fuel town feuds. Some are resolved, while new ones emerge. Gresham is a master of character development. I feel like I could walk into Angie's Fire and Ice House and know everyone there. I especially love Pastor Matt with his common sense theology and view of life. His insight and terse summary of the difference between Republicans and Democrats rated a "WOW!" next to a highlight. I'll be quoting that line often. Pithy wisdom is a powerful spice in this mixture of steam and suspense.

Now I can't wait for the third volume. I highly recommend all titles in this series for anyone who enjoys a great mystery. Fans of Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles Herbal Mystery series should especially appreciate the Matt Hayden series which is set in a nearby small Central Texas community.

Murder in the Second Pew REVIEW by Midwest Book Review

K.P. Gresham
Paperback ISBN: 9780006700269, $14.99
E-Book ISBN: 9780996700276, $ 4.99
Website/ordering Link: www.kpgresham.com

Murder in the Second Pew is a Pastor Matt Hayden mystery that follows the retired cop/newfound pastor's cases; because sometimes a cop just can't let go of his true profession, even when his participation in a Witness Protection program leads him to take spiritual vows.

No prior familiarity with Pastor Hayden's first appearance (in The Preacher's First Murder) is required in order to readily absorb the background and perspective of this unusual investigator. From the very first sentence, Pastor Hayden's personality and experience are clear: "Hearing the gunshots, Pastor Matt Hayden hit the floor behind his office desk with the reflexes of the cop he'd once been. My God. Have they found me? He slanted a glance at the two women?the matrons of the Altar Guild, no less?staring at him from their chairs across from his desk, mouths agape."

The second strength of Murder in the Second Pew is K.P. Gresham's ability to inject powerful descriptive language into her story line, whether with character dialogue or setting: "She'll wrap herself around you like a sweet-potato vine, then slap you into next Wednesday when you get interested," Zach said angrily, but when Chelsea returned with the iced tea, his look turned lecherous."

Character's psyches, places, and dialogue are firmly rooted in a story that swirls around Matt's attempts to both solve crime and keep his real identity a secret, even though his methods and approaches are anything but those of a man of the cloth, leading to his real background coming under unwanted scrutiny: "We both know you've been somethin' other than a preacher in the past. The way you put together the murders last January, the questions you asked, the methodology you followed - it's clear you've been trained in keepin' the law." Matt knew that witness protection policy would dictate that he deny it, but he remained silent."

As religious questions, political issues, and dead bodies task Matt with impossible puzzles and attempts to keep his secrets, readers are treated to Texas atmosphere and an investigation that holds unexpected consequences for all involved.

Murder in the Second Pew's ability to attract newcomers and prior fans of Pastor Matt Hayden alike with its unique blend of religious, psychological, and investigative perspectives makes it one of the best new mystery series on the market. Well-done and involving, the story offers many satisfying twists right up to the conclusion, which paves the way for more.