The Max Tudor series is set in England in contemporary times. Max is an ex MI5 agent who has answered "the calling" and become an Episcopalian priest and vicar of St. Edwold's in Nether Monkslip. Nether Monkslip is a quaint country village full of colorful people.
This book takes Max outside of Nether Monkslip at the request of the Bishop to investigate some funny goings on at Monkbury Abbey, home of an order of nuns; The Handmaids of St. Lucy. They are a cloistered group of nuns who are self sustaining by their gardening, canning, making baptismal gowns, other weaving and their famous fruitcake. They even have a website for the public to order from. They also run a guesthouse for the public to stay in for retreats.
Lord Lislelivet received a fruitcake from an unknown person several months ago and was poisoned when he ate it. Also the finances of the Abbey are not in order. Max is sent to hang out and see if he can find out anything. (I won't talk about meanwhile back at home, in case you haven't read the first few books and want to).
It seems there are several visitors from the outside world staying at the Abbey at this time. Max gets to know them all and interviews each nun to learn the history of the Abbey and try to inquire about their financial state. Ooops. Some turns up dead in the well.
There are many twists and turns in this book. People are not at all what they seem or you would think. Who poisoned Lord Lislelivet and why? Who killed the person and through him in the well and why? Where did the money go and why?
The surprise ending is who is involved in this.
The descriptions of the countryside are wonderful. Just when you get lulled into picturing the view, things get crazy.
Oh there is a nod to Louise Penny in this book, I think. Max is thinking about a quote from a poem that one of the nuns talks about. '''...how the light gets in". He mentions how this is the title of a recent popular book. :) This does play a part in part of the mystery.
If you think you would like to read this book, I would start with the first one: Wicked Autumn, to get the background information and see how the characters "back home" fit together. I have read all four of the series and like them all.