Book Review: The Sleeping Witness

The Sleeping Witness Book Cover The Sleeping Witness
Father Gabriel
Fiorella de Maria
Ignatius Press
Electronic and Paperback

In this unusual murder mystery, the tranquility of Saint Mary's Abbey is shattered by the discovery of a gruesome crime in a cottage on the abbey grounds. A foreign artist and war hero seeking refuge from the world has been murdered. Marie Paige, the frail, sickly wife of the village doctor, lies beside him beaten into a coma.

The police arrest Marie's husband, convinced that they are looking at a crime of passion. But Dr. Paige finds himself with an unlikely champion: Fr. Gabriel, a blundering but brilliant Benedictine priest who believes in his innocence and feels compelled to search for the truth.

In a country struggling to come to terms with the devastation of the Second World War, even a secluded English village has its share of secrets and broken lives. It is not long before Fr. Gabriel and his companions find themselves embarking on a dangerous journey into the victims' troubled war histories and a chapter of Europe's bloodiest conflict that is almost too terrible to be acknowledged.



To say I was excited to see De Maria’s latest book was a Catholic whodunit would be an extreme understatement. I reviewed her novel, We’ll Never Tell Them, and was impressed by her style.

I started to read this book as soon as I had downloaded it to my Kindle library – and I did not put it down until I had finished it, reading it cover to cover (screen to screen) in a single sitting.

The Sleeping Witness may be the perfect length for the busy mum – but that doesn’t mean that it skimps in other areas.

De Maria has a beautiful way of portraying her characters in such a realistic, and flawed way. Her protagonist might be a priest, and a monk, but he struggles with disobedience, among other things and is a very relatable character.

Her characters are always well rounded which made it hard to solve the crime before Father Gabriel did (unfortunately I have a habit of doing that in others, Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train are two recent examples), and she does through in a few plot twists that work well.

Her descriptions of a time and place post World War II are evocative and so effective that you feel as though you can reach out and touch the care worn furniture.

I enjoyed this book immensely and loved the subtle jabs at various areas – Agatha Christie and the Jesuits are just a few – that are both funny and intelligent and unlikely to cause offence.

De Maria’s first in what is to be a series is a great introduction and I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

You can grab a copy here.


Filed Under: Book ReviewsFeaturedJust For MumReviews

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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