• The Shadow of Death

  • The Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Jane Willan
  • Narrated by: Helen Lloyd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,028 ratings)

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The Shadow of Death

By: Jane Willan
Narrated by: Helen Lloyd
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Publisher's Summary

A charming and clever traditional mystery debut set at a bucolic Welsh convent, The Shadow of Death introduces Sister Agatha, a mystery loving nun who finds herself in the midst of a real-life murder case.

The sisters of Gwenafwy Abbey have cherished their contemplative life - days spent in prayer, reflection, tending the convent's vegetable gardens and making their award-winning organic cheese, Heavenly Gouda. Life seems perfect, except for Sister Agatha, a die-hard mystery fan who despairs of ever finding any real life inspiration for her own novel. That is, until the abbey's sexton is found dead under an avalanche of gouda. Despite the reservations of the local constable, Sister Agatha is convinced it's murder and the game is afoot.

Armed only with the notes she's scribbled during her favorite podcast, How to Write a Mystery Novel, as well as lessons learned from crime heroes ranging from Hercule Poirot to Stephanie Plum, Sister Agatha leads the nuns of Gwenafwy Abbey (and her unwitting sidekick, Father Selwyn) as they begin a race against time to resolve the death of Jacob, save the abbey, exonerate a beloved postulant, and restore the good name of their cheese.

©2019 Jane Willan (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about The Shadow of Death

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Strange mistakes

The story was fun and the narrator was excellent but has the author spent any time in the UK where the book is set? There were strange errors on every page starting at the very beginning with the word zucchini - we say courgette in the UK. It was followed by many more errors. For example, we don’t have bail bondsmen or talk about dumpsters, college basketball etc. The author also worked hard to add Welsh language elements but then mentioned a Welshcake being fresh from the oven - they are cooked on a griddle! I was very tempted to stop listening but I was enjoying the narration so much that I carried on - I decided to play ‘Spot the Error’ instead!

21 people found this helpful

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Pleasant Surprise

The Shadow of Death is a pleasant surprise. The characters are engaging, the dialogue witty and the mystery is entertaining. I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next boo in this series.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Good Characters

I really enjoyed listening to this story because Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn make a great pair of volunteer detectives and are good characters. I liked how Sister Agatha refers to a character in one of Janet Evanovich's books (one of my favorite author's). I look forward to listening to the next audiobook in the future.

11 people found this helpful

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  • ..
  • 04-20-19

How Lovely!

Enjoyable! A sweet escape from the times. Thank you for a lovely story. Well read.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Would have been better as a children’s book

It’s a very sweet story. It could use a good edit by a professional editor, but the story is entertaining. The characters are a little two dimensional, but not without charm. It reads very much like a children’s mystery story. Had it been more clearly marketed for kids, I would probably have given it 4 stars. The narrator is okay. Compared to some narrators she reads a little dull, but definitely not terrible to listen to

7 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable

I loved the references to other popular mystery writers and their characters. If you like this genre they will all be familiar names. Excellent touch.

5 people found this helpful

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Saved by the charm of the performance

The plot is ridiculous, the writing inexpert and error-filled, and the characters are only marginally better than the plot. The reader is wonderful enough to keep one listening through the silly end.

4 people found this helpful

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A relief to find a good cozy

Liked this a lot. Some dynamics to the plot without getting grungy. Good people with some sass and spark.

4 people found this helpful

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Not worth the time

The amateur detective is named Agatha, thinks Agatha Christie was a saint (I’m sure she’d have been dumbstruck at the idea), and is writing a mystery (which sounds off the charts awful). But she says Miss Marple is the detective in Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (she isn’t) and that Miss Marple put on a series of disguises to detect (she didn’t). I was hoping this might turn out to be a case of an unreliable narrator and Agatha the nun might be guilty—fitting in nicely with the copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd she’s reading at the beginning. No such luck. Just lazy writing.

4 people found this helpful

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Corny but cute

I love the story line. Interesting to keep you going but also sweet and charming story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MRS
  • 08-15-21

Such a Pity

I really wanted to like this book but just 4 chapters in and I have to admit defeat. The author is American, (not a problem), who has clearly aimed this work at an English audience, but has howeve,r failed quite stupidly to remove all 'Americanisms' from the book.
Nowhere in the UK would we mention a 'gumshoe' or a 'sharpy'. Even looking this up online does not help-- a card sharp, or a flat bottomed boat, clearly not what was meant and in fact, at this time I suspect it to be a sharpened pencil, but the online dictionaries do not mention it.
Why would I pay good money for an author who has been lazy? Does this author actually care what people think?
Sorry but I loved the idea but REALLY? This is negligence on a far reaching scale.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • D Hoskin
  • 08-05-21

lose the zucchinis

Good story with great narration. Nice to have a premise like this set in pretty much the present day, but where contemporary references don't feel too laboured. However, I have to admit that the amount of American terms that pepper the writing almost became distracting - zucchini, sidewalk, cellphones, and a nun being described as having Size 10 feet(!)

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Claire
  • 08-18-21

Lazy research

It’s a good story and well narrated but I must echo previous reviews, it’s dotted with americanisms which are jarring and take your focus away from what is being said. Sidewalks, cell phones, snickerdoodle and diapers to name a few, just lazy research.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Linda Joslin
  • 08-15-21

Reasonable story let down by poor editing

This was an interesting story but let down with the use of far too many American phrases. For a story set in rural Wales no one would use words such as sidewalk, checking account, emergency room, pocket book, fall. It is a pity that when the book was edited that these were not corrected to the English equivalent. It made the characters much less believable when they were using American words which would never be used by a born and bred Welsh person.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Claire
  • 02-11-19

Entertaining listening

I really enjoy this series and am looking forward to Book 3 - not sure why Book 2 arrived before Book 1. I immediately re- listened to Book 2 again after I finished Book 1. The setting in North Wales appeals to my Welsh heritage and I know some of the real places such as Wrexham and St Asaph well. The nuns are an interesting bunch and I would definitely sample the cheese! The Bishop is a formidable lady but Sister Agatha has the measure of her. The only thing that gives away this book is not written by a native speaker is the occasional ‘gotten’, ‘sidewalk’ and ‘dove’ which is American English, not English English.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Becky 'Pob'
  • 07-09-22

Torture!

This had the makings of such a good story but sadly the Americanisms just dominate, its so jarring I had to will myself to finish it. Why, oh why was this not translated for the UK market? A note to self to read the reviews before I download a book in future.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rachel Swann
  • 07-06-22

Cosy crime plot - clearly written for American mar

This is a lovely cosy crime narrative, but... the use of American terminology (zucchini, cell phone, pants, etc) combined with poor Welsh pronunciation (dd pronounced d etc) has really put me off. The accents are good, but if you're going to use Welsh place names, phrases etc, it would be less jarring if they sounded correct and natural. Frustrating.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen Hall
  • 05-20-22

Horrendous pronunciation

The Welsh grow courgettes not zucchini and though the narrator did their best, the mispronunciations grated after a while. Also there was a lot of repetition that slowed the story down and the images of Nuns strolling around with mobile phones and expensive brand name trainers, seemed an additional afterthought to pad out the story and distracted from the reality of the plot.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-20-21

Disappointing

Poorly researched with inaccuracies throughout.Seems to be based on a foreign Catholic view rather than the behaviour of the Church in Wales.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Searlain McCormack
  • 12-01-22

Spoilt by American expressions

lovely story based in Wales. Pity about the Americanisms. No-one in Wales uses the words side walk or cell phone.

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  • Anita
  • 10-03-22

Very Enjoyable

Loved this book, great narrator.

Good old fashioned murder & mystery, which kept you wondering til the end who done it & why.

If you like midsummer murders or Agatha Christie, Father Brown who done it's you'll enjoy this.

Interesting backdrop for story being nuns & a Abbey, lots of characters, looking forward to next book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-24-22

light-hearted.

Found this to be quite light-hearted ,made me smile and chuckle to myself. narration fine.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David Jones
  • 05-06-22

Really enjoyed this

A really Lovely Book narrator was good can’t wait for the next book you would not think nuns could be so witty sorry it’s a a great story