The hamlet of Pennant Melangell consists of a church and a few cottages and lies in a mountainous part of North Wales that is so remote that it is, even today, only barely accessible to cars. It is the ancient pilgrimage site for the medieval Saint Melangell and is still visited by those seeking healing.
The Davison family has come to Pennant Melangell seeking spiritual refuge as their family faces the reality of Jenny Davison’s terminal cancer. Jenny and Aidan have visited before, but this is the first time they have brought their daughter, seven-year-old Melangell, to the place which inspired her name.
New since their last visit is a lavish hotel–The House of the Hare–a grand project conceived and financed by local businessman Thaddeus Brown. The Davisons are impressed by the extensive facilities developed with the needs of the sick, weak, and disabled in mind. Jenny is particularly excited by the archery range with modifications that will enable her to shoot arrows even in her extremely weakened state.
But instead of a place of healing, this sacred location becomes a place of doom when Thaddeus Brown is found dead, an arrow in his eye. Suspicion falls on those who have used the archery range, including Jenny along with Brown’s vulnerable young niece Lorna. As Aidan works to clear his wife’s name, young Melangell goes missing. Is the murderer also a kidnapper? Or does The House of the Hare harbor more mysteries? And who might be the next victim?
The first of a series of new mysteries featuring Aidan Davison and set in what celebrated fantasy novelist Fay Sampson describes as the “thin” places of the Celtic world.
Imagine going on a much needed retreat. Life has been stressful and you’re accompanying a loved one who is dying of cancer. You expect to have a week of peace, with no doctors and no drama. The first day goes well; the hotel is mostly empty, and you can almost look past the annoying guest and the seemingly tense relationship between the owner and his niece. The following day, that same owner is found dead and the remainder of your stay becomes anything but peaceful; especially when your terminally ill relative is a main suspect.
It’s hard to describe but this book has the most perfect flow. To give an example, it begins with a gentle drive along a narrow backcountry road and a conversation between family members. But when a car approaches from the other direction at breakneck speed, the pace of the narrative picks up to reflect the sudden danger. I love books like this. The Hunted Hare drew me in to its serene setting of a retreat center in rural Wales, but ignited tension where warranted such as when a young child goes missing.
The child, Melangell, is a seven year old delight. She is often wise beyond her years, but she isn’t too old to forego the ritual of the bedtime story. She also speaks her mind, as a child is inclined to do. She charms everyone, including the arrogant Caradoc Lewis who treats any form of Christianity with distain. Her parents would like her to keep her innocent and trusting nature for as long as possible, but is such a thing possible?
You can find more information about Melangell and the hamlet of Pennant Melangell at the St Melangell’s Church website.
Publisher: Monarch Books
Publication Date: 01 October 2012
Page Count: 288
Thank you to Kregel Publications for my free copy of The Hunted Hare, which I received in exchange for an honest review.