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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Death in the Memorial Garden by Kathie Deviny (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Kathie Deviny, author of Death in the Memorial Garden!

Author Guest Post

The inspiration for Death in the Memorial Garden came from an essay I wrote called, “Ashes,Ashes,” about the many ways we honor and “dispose of” our departed loved ones. In it, I described the grassy courtyard between our downtown Seattle church and its parish hall.

The courtyard is called the Memorial Garden, and under it are buried the remains of many former members and their families.

To reserve a spot, you must agree that there will be no urn, and no marker other than your name on a plaque inside the church. You must also not be bothered by the idea that the grass above your resting place will be the scene of Easter Egg hunts, summer concerts, and St. Francis Day animal blessings. The soft green grass will also attract urban campers, as well as flocks of pigeons fed by an eccentric lady from the neighborhood.

After finishing the essay, I wondered, what would stop someone from performing a do-it-yourself burial when no one was watching? What if they didn’t bother to remove the ashes from the urn or other container, but just dug a hole big enough for everything, and carefully replaced the sod on top? And what would happen if this was the same location pre-reserved by someone else, someone whose internment was today? And what if the pigeon lady and her flock decided to attend the service?

So I wrote a mystery to answer those very questions.

About The Author

After retiring from a career as a “government bureaucrat” serving primarily in the criminal justice system, Kathie Deviny studied creative writing. Essays focusing on her treatment for breast cancer and life as the spouse of an Episcopal priest have been published in the Seattle Times, Episcopal Life, Cure magazine, and Faith, Hope and Healing by Bernie Siegel.

Kathie was Features Editor of her high school newspaper and originally planned a career in journalism. After realizing she was too shy to chase after stories, she followed her mother’s career path and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work, attending UC Berkeley and the University of Washington. She nurtured her journalistic ambitions by developing a program at the Monroe, WA, prison which produced a magazine in cooperation with community volunteers.

Death in the Memorial Garden, her first work of fiction, reflects her love of the cozy-style mystery. Her other loves are gardening, choral singing, and locating bargains at her church’s thrift shop, where she volunteers. Kathie lives with her now-retired husband, Paul; they divide their time between California and Western Washington.

Kathie Deviny's Death in the Memorial Garden Virtual Book Tour Page On Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Review

Death in the Memorial Garden by Kathie Deviny
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback - 154 pages / Kindle - 456 KB / Nook - 758 KB
ISBN: 1603818995
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: Death in the Memorial Garden

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Just as the sexton is about to inter the ashes of one of Grace Church’s last wealthy patronesses in the Memorial Garden, he unearths a wine crate containing the ashes of an unknown. Next to the ashes is a distinctive pair of shoes. Not only are the woman’s relatives furious at the interruption, but they soon have grounds for a lawsuit: yet another piece of the church’s tower comes crashing to the ground.

With their congregation dwindling and their world literally falling in around them, Father Robert Vickers and his colorful staff members and volunteers put their heads together to solve the mystery of the anonymous ashes and find the means to save Grace Church from the developers … all in time for the Bishop’s visit.

Book Excerpt:

The obstacle, once unearthed, proved to be the size and shape of a wine crate. It was a wine crate, Robert Vickers realized. As a matter of fact, he told Raymond, the security officer, it was the same type of crate that held the sweet wine used by Grace Church for communion services. The top looked to have been removed and then crudely re-nailed.

“Good job, Henry! Now go to the tool closet and bring back a crowbar,” he ordered.

While they were waiting, the priest noticed that the number of food bank clients and other spectators had swelled and were spilling into the street. A man in a turban jostled against another sporting a suit and fedora. A woman wearing a long navy blue dress and veil was offering her potatoes to a Hawaiian-shirted fellow in exchange for his rice.

The babble of many languages rose on the rainy breeze, lending the scene the air of a modern-day Pentecost. All that was missing was the dove, although there were plenty of pigeons underfoot, hoping for a handout. Robert was not surprised to see the tall figure of Clare, known to all as the Pigeon Lady, among the crowd, swathed head to foot in a hooded brown robe.

Wherever she went, the pigeons followed, even though the Health Officer had persuaded her to stop feeding them. Robert also spotted Marjory, Clare’s caretaker, standing nearby and shaking her head as if to say, “What can I do?” Clare’s arms were outstretched, as if to bless them all, bird and human alike.

A baby-blue police cruiser poked its way up the street through the crowd. The vehicle stopped midstream, and then its door pushed open against the surrounding bodies. A curly blonde head and blue-clad torso emerged and loomed over the crowd. The patrol officer waded toward Raymond and Father Vickers, using her broad shoulders to part the waters. Once on the other side, she eyed the pile of dirt, the hole in the ground and the split box, and asked Raymond, “Well, well, Officer Chen. Got funeral duty today?”

“Very funny, Officer Hitchcock,” he replied, brown eyes meeting her baby blues. “What I’ve got is a big mess. Father Vickers here was trying to bury some remains when the gravedigger ran into this box.”

Joyce Hitchcock glanced around the garden area. “This doesn’t look like a graveyard to me.”

Robert intervened. “It’s a memorial garden, officer, consecrated for the purpose of interring the ashes of the deceased of this church. It’s—oh, it doesn’t matter—I want to find out what’s inside this box. We were just getting ready to open it.”

“But what if there’s a body inside?” croaked Henry the sexton, crowbar at the ready. Realizing from the quizzical looks he was receiving that a wine box wasn’t quite large enough for this purpose, he amended his question in a more forceful tone, “Well, what if there’s a body part inside?”

My Book Review:

Grace Church is in a terrible state of disrepair, and it is up to the church's congregation led by Father Robert Vickers to save their beloved church from falling into the hands of land developers. And if that isn't enough, the congregation become amateur sleuths trying to solve the mystery of the anonymous ashes discovered in a wine crate buried in the church's memorial garden during an internment ceremony. But someone wants the church to close and will go to great lengths to make it a reality ... including murder!

In her debut novel, author Kathie Deviny weaves a fast paced tale that has intrigue, mystery and humor all rolled up into a neat little story that takes place over a span of one week. Death in the Memorial Garden's storyline has surprising twist and turns coupled with satirical humor that will keep you engaged, and a quirky cast of characters who are a lot of fun.

Death in the Memorial Garden is an entertaining little cozy mystery that can be read in one sitting.



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Gina! Thank you for the kind comment. Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host the virtual book tour event. :)

  2. Phenomenal post and review. Very professional. Thank you.

    1. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. I appreciate your kind comments. :)