CHAPTER 1 New MoonThursday, March 22
The vernal equinox had come and gone, and Easter would soon be upon them. The Reverend Maxen “Max” Tudor was in his vicarage working at his computer, a machine so antiquated, it almost needed foot pedals to operate. He was rather feverishly trying to write a sermon on one of Saint Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, a sermon that was beginning to irk even Max. Paul could sound so smug at times. So sure of himself. So holier-than—
Inspired, Max began to write: “Saint Paul at times appears to our modern world as the smug apostle—a man holier-than-thou, a preachy know-it-all full of scoldings and reprimands, chiding others for the way they lived their lives. But the Corinthians…”
But the Corinthians, what? There was no but.
Saint Paul at his worst had always been hard to take—the garrulous, advice-giving uncle no one wanted to sit next to at dinner, the Polonius of his day. The fun-loving Corinthians had probably stampeded in their rush to avoid the old Gloomy Gus missionary.
Max, searching his mind for a more inspiring topic, a more accessible theme, a more man-of-the-people apostle, began playing with the various fonts in his word-processing software. Gothic typeface in deep purple for the stories of the apostles, orange Arial for the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and blue Garamond in italics for her replies. Max deliberated some more, then in twenty-point Gothic he typed “Let there be light,” and highlighted the words with the yellow text highlight function.
was getting him nowhere. He selected all the text on the page and with a sigh changed everything to boring old twelve-point black Times New Roman. He thought a moment, then keyed in “And darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
Backspace, backspace, backspace. He stole a glance at the copy of Glossamer Living
magazine on his desk, left behind by one of his parishioners—a sort of negative inspiration, since he and his parishioners were living in the season of Lent, a time for setting aside personal indulgences, most of which were featured between the covers of this publication. High fashion and fast cars; pricey houses, restaurants, and vacations. On the cover was a photograph of a castle garden in Normandy, with a bed of Technicolor tulips in the foreground.
How had it gotten to be springtime already? Max, leafing through his desk calendar, blinked with something like wonder, then looked at the watch on his wrist, as if that might confirm what he was seeing. The variable weather of the past few months had been disorienting, for humans as well as for plants and animals. It seemed to him the newborn lambs had arrived earlier this year. Easter, the most important day in the church calendar, would be here before he knew it—or, at this rate, had a sermon ready for it. He noticed the full moon fell on Good Friday this year, which seemed fitting somehow. Awena called it the “Egg Moon”; he had no idea why. Some pagan tradition rolled into the Easter traditions, he thought, enjoying the unintentional pun.
The God Squad would be meeting soon to discuss the “Eat, Pray, Plan” retreat, and while preparing for these vestry meetings seemed a futile gesture, preparation was necessary to maintain some semblance of order. He also needed to schedule tryouts for instrumentalists for the Sunday services while the organist was away for the summer. Max so far had veto
Praise for A Fatal Winter:
"For Louise Penny fans." —Library Journal (starred)
"Agatha Christie fans will relish [this] delicious . . . novel." —Publishers Weekly (starred)
Praise for Wicked Autumn:
“Sly humor rivals Jane Austen's.” —The Boston Globe
“A classic and one almost any reader will enjoy.” —Charlaine Harris, author of the True Blood series