Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

England, 1937


Who Killed the Curate?

by Joan Coggin

Lady Lupin Lorrimer Hastings is the newlywed wife of Andrew, the attractive vicar of St. Marks Parish. A London society girl, Lupin is totally unprepared for the multiple tasks assigned to the wife of the vicar of a seaside village church. Scatterbrained, even described in a loving way as “batty” by one of her friends, Lupin at the same time is lovable and warmhearted. When Andrew’s curate is poisoned, Lupin finds herself defending the most likely suspect, the local author of detective stories.

Coggin’s plot revolves around the doings of a small circle of parishioners who always seem to be dropping in on the vicarage. Lupin does not uncover the murderer on her own. Rather she relies on investigations undertaken by various church members and by her old friends. It is hard, however, to connect with any of Coggin’s cast of characters. Most, Lupin in particular, lack any real concern about the murderer in their midst. The larger events in Europe are ignored as well, with only one small reference to the Fascist and Nazi governments on the continent. What does seem real is the very 1930s English middle class dialogue, written by an author who lived in the period.

Lupin is featured in three following mysteries, perhaps the first clergyman’s wife to take up crime-solving as a hobby. The Lady Lupin mysteries, written by Coggin who was born in 1898, are out of print vintage works recently revived in 2001 by the Rue Morgue Press. The book contains an interesting preface about Joan Coggin.



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