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Critical Acclaim for The Rector

“Michael Thompson offers a tantalizing murder mystery filled with chilling explorations of hypocrisy, true faith, and small-town secrets. It’s about sin and redemption. It’s about the search for truth, in both the physical and spiritual realms. And it’s all wrapped up in a puzzle that keeps even skeptics on their toes… the writing is compelling with a plot that grows ever thicker and offers even ardent mystery fans delightfully unexpected twists and turns … the intrigue is well developed with well-placed clues and cliffhangers… the characters are multidimensional and fascinating… the faith themes are so masterfully woven in that those who aren’t religious should simply find the novel to be top-notch suspense.”

— Excerpt from Diane Gardner, 
 ForeWord Clarion Reviews

“This novel is packed full of suspense, great characters, a believable plot, and stimulating theological discussions. This may be the most interesting novel I have read in ages.” Joan Nienhuis, Book Reviewer. “I highly recommend this mystery novel. It is well crafted with great characters. I was leery of a male writing a female lead character but was happily surprised and pleased with the result. This novel is more than a mystery, however. It is a clever allegory, highlighted by the ending.”

Susan Reichert, editor-in-chief, Southern Writers Magazine: “Michael Thompson is an author who takes you by the hand and leads you down unexpected paths. His ability to create believable characters instantly draws you into their world. You will find yourself rooting for goodness to prevail as you follow the twists he so brilliantly weaves in this story.”

Quick paced, well written with a wonderful cast of characters, a good plot, a really scary bad guy and all the trappings of a good murder mystery… (even some humor)… The Rector will keep you entertained from start to finish and the biblical references aren’t in the least “preachy” and only help to enrich the story. Well done Mr. Thompson! Five Stars.
Reviewed By Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

Anne Rightler on August 21, 2016 at 10:35pm
“The Rector by Michael Hicks Thompson is one humdinger of a murder mystery! Mississippi in the 1950s and a church setting to boot. The characters are marvelously portrayed, with the expected drawl and idioms as well as depictions of a small town of this era…a sheriff who hides on the church floor to hear a confession, a meat cleaver-toting woman, a rector who may not be a rector and the bed and breakfast owner (Sherlock Holmes herself!) with her gaggle of Bible study friends. There’s gossip, secrets galore, compassion, and close friendships and with being a murder mystery, evil, greed, and jealousy abound as well. “The Delta was swarming with boll weevils and all sorts of evil.” The story line moves quickly and is action packed from the death on page one to the surprising climactic finish. The author tops it off with a little humor (“I needed a plan. But first, I needed some sherry.”) and threads throughout the story a strong Christian theme, or as one character puts it, theological interludes. With these ‘interludes’ Thompson reminds the reader that God is a personal Deity and faith in Christ alone is the key to a relationship with this God of justice and love. A captivating first book in the Solo Ladies Bible Study series.
I received a copy of this book through The Book Club Network ( in exchange for my honest review. I have posted reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,,,,,,,, and, if available.” Review by Anne Rightler.

5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Murder Mystery… Southern Style!, April 20, 2016
By terrylynn
This review is from: The Rector: A Christian Murder Mystery (The Solo Ladies Bible Study Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
“This is just a good old fashioned Southern murder mystery with all the familiar touches… sweet tea, corn bread and homemade honey, sweltering weather and of course an abundance of good versus evil. This is book one of a series that I will certainly want to follow as this author comes out with each new book about the Solo Ladies’ Bible Study and the murder mysteries that Miss Martha McRae will surely feel compelled to solve as she was with this one. She kind of reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple except that she is a good Christian woman who is determined to right the wrongs that occur in her sleepy little town in Mississippi. She is endlessly kind, sharp as a tack and tough as a steel magnolia, but she really shouldn’t be driving at night!”

From reviewer blog, Literary Litter:
“The last time that I fell in love with a town so deeply, it was when Jan Karon created Mitford. These characters will completely capture your heart. These are real characters with real struggles. Most of them just want to be the best they can be and help each other. Of course, we do have a few characters that just don’t fit in. They have their own agenda. Every character is beautifully flawed. This book captures human essence better than any cozy mystery I’ve read.
Don’t let the fact that this is a Christian murder mystery keep you from picking this book up. Though there are some valuable Biblical references and a few fascinating thoughts, there is no point in this book where it gets preachy. Thompson doesn’t use his writing talent to force you to see things his way. Instead, the characters talk about their beloved God and you can either take what they’re saying and think about it, or discard it. For those of you who are Christians, you might find some interesting insight. It’s definitely more ‘leading’ than it is ‘forcing’ though.
Once I started reading the book, it kept my attention. The plot is easy to follow, and the characters are well developed. It is one of those books that you can imagine being a part of. The people are realistic and you can picture the southern setting.

“Though reading the story was enjoyable, there is something more in it that made the book better. Even with the sin and problems the characters face, God’s love and redemption were often spoken of. Especially when the topic of revenge would come up. Faith in Jesus was prominent, and trusting Him for guidance and protection were shown as something we need to do. There are also allusions to Bible passages and lessons.” Philip Cole, reviewer, unknown to author.
It’s hard not to enjoy the humor of the situation just as much as the murder mystery. Martha is a strong character who presents a few flaws when her obsession in solving the crimes became paramount. And it is gratifying to watch the evolution of the church and its members as everything occurred within their town and congregation. This is one of those books that I want to just keep telling you about all the great situations, plots and sub-plots that have been provided. Not only is that telling too much, but the story line becomes so complex–with concurrent and intertwined situations which keeps readers guessing what is going to happen next–that you can’t easily break issues out.

“While you’re enjoying page after page, however, there is no way you’ll be prepared for the climax of the story. And, as always, you can learn more on my blog. I loved this one and add it to my personal favorites for 2016… Do check it out! — GABixler Reviews

“The Rector” is an excellent murder mystery. This isn’t my usual genre and so I was hesitant to believe I could make it all the way through, but I have to admit it kept me hooked! I read every single night before bed and this had me looking forward to bedtime more than ever. The story is really multiple mysteries in one. Every time one concluded, I wondered how on earth there could be so many pages left, but before the end of that chapter something else had shattered the peace and brought new questions requiring an investigator. The characters are engaging–whether you love or hate them. I recommend this book and can’t wait to pick up another of Thompson’s novels.”

“Michael Thompson has written a wonderful mystery that really engaged my whole being and more so with each page I turned. There were clues that weren’t clues, but were used to throw me off course and other times he would reveal something I never saw coming! The author’s main character is a lady named Martha who writes and publishes her own local newspaper as well as running a local boardinghouse in her home. I became enthralled with the slowly woven web craftily put forth by the author that centers on a church which seems to have a problem. However, the problem it has might surprise you or maybe not. Either way the excitement builds chapter by chapter until the conclusion has you turning pages faster than ever to see what happens next!… If you’re looking for a suspense-filled, cleanly written, engaging novel, look no further! If you know of others who would just love to read, discuss or perhaps a book club looking for its next book, share this one! Then, seat yourself down for a wonderful, exciting time lost in the pages of a thriller!”– Lisa Johnson, August 2, 2016.

(The author does not know any of these reviewers.)

Other Reviews

  • “The Rector takes you by the hand and leads you down unexpected paths. The author's ability to create believable characters instantly draws you into their world. You will find yourself rooting for goodness to prevail as you follow the twists he brilliantly weaves in this story.”

Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine
  • Michael Thompson has brought to life the Mississippi of my youth, complete with small town scandals, murders, prison, and the powerful southern female. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy a glass of sweet tea and a romping good tale.

    Carolyn Haines, author of 68 mysteries and the on-going Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series
  • This is a superbly written story involving spiritual victory in spite of murder, deceit, and lust in a small town in the 1950′s. High stars for a Christian story that reads like a thriller.

    D.S. Hale, author of YA Christian spec-fiction (unknown to author)
  • A murder mystery, suspense and drama underlying a layer of narrative from the bible. Absolutely engrossing. 
I have my own thoughts about where this is heading – the preacher turning up out of the blue etc,….I laughed at the character of the postman, and some of the other narrative- such as- selecting the criteria for the new preacher, sending JJ off to do the business and then Martha interviewing the new preacher before allowing him to stay- all very well done. 
A well-told account that grips the imagination. What is going on? 
The characterisation is clever and well presented. A great range of characters/
Multi-layered and cleverly plotted. 
Very well done. 
I did not make any edit suggestions- I merely enjoyed the flow of this story. 

High stars!

    Sheena McLeod, London (unknown to author)
  • This was spell binding and real. I love how honest it is and not fake. 100 awesome. Love and rated high.

    Jack Hudson, author, Warm-Up Kills (unknown to author)
  • If you love southern gossips and party lines and communal mail, you’ll feel right at home in Solo, Mississippi…biblical in its proportions, with a revolving Episcopal pulpit, a moonshine-swilling postmaster and a murdering villain. Jesus, Martha, Mary, John the Baptist, Satan—what a place!

    Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author, Enchanted Evening Barbie & The Second Coming
  • You weave an excellent tale, Michael! I love the intrigue you create in the first chapter. A good mystery! Your writing is clear and error free, and it flows easily which makes it an easy read. Giving you high stars!

    BeeJoy (unknown to author)
  • The humor, intrigue, mystery, and surprise ending were so enjoyable for the short time I had to read last weekend. I loved the characters, good and bad. Being able to start and finish a book in the short time I had was wonderful. Many longer books I have started never got finished because I just didn’t have the time. Your novel was just perfect. The concept that we are “a soul that just happens to have a body” is one that that I am still thinking about. I laughed out loud, was curious, anxious, felt empathy for some, and wanted to take revenge on the evil doers. Lots of emotions were drawn out in such a short book! It is so wonderful to see someone use their God given talents in such a creative way. I look forward to your next adventure, and am already thinking of people who would enjoy your book as a Christmas present. Wishing you much success.

    Linda Cochran. (Yes, I'm a friend of Michael. But I love to read good mysteries.)
  • What an excellent book! You’re a good writer and have included in a story the wonderful story of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ! I’m impressed. It was nice how the story of a redeemed woman was being told before he knew it was his mother. Good writing!
God bless you!!!

  • Your book is magnificent. Can't put it down. It is rare that I read book, and wish I'd written it. It has never happened that I wished I'd written it from the first page, and every page after. Magnificent writing! You have captured the characters perfectly!

    Leanna Hollis (unknown to author)
  • If you are a fan of mystery novels with a lot of action you will enjoy this book.

    Heidi Anne
  • A mystery centered around an Episcopal church in a small Mississippi Delta town. The story is multi-layered and sophisticated with surprises easy read that provides insights to a piece of Americana that most are not aware of.

  • The Rector is one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Michael Thompson has such a gift for depicting life in the south and developing characters that you get to know as if they are in your own circle of friends. The story is action packed to the point that I never found myself skimming for even a short paragraph. I can't wait for the sequel! This would make an Oscar worthy movie!

    DeAnne Gammon
  • Set in the 1950s, the key figures are Martha, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Satan, and Jesus.” The Christian allegory in this book is not as overbearing as, say, the Christian allegory in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But it is still there. I was wondering who the John the Baptist character was in the book, then it dawned on me: honey, wooley man, JJ! That, by the way, accounts for a scene in the book that I initially thought was unnecessary and gratuitous.

    James B. Pate
  • When I picked up and saw that this was a "Christian murder mystery" my first thought was that it was going to be boring as sin, because we all need some salacious details, gossip, and gore to make it a little more interesting. Thankfully, I was quickly proven wrong. Michael Hicks Thompson does a great job of bringing small town southern gossip, church drama, and quirky characters to life. Yes there is a religious slant to it (beyond all the priests getting murdered), but it's honest and not too preachy. The story isn't 100% squeaky clean, one of the church goers is a former prostitute that gets raped and adultery comes up a few times, but overall this story will appeal to those that prefer clean Christian reads and those that like quirky mysteries. Martha McRae is a widow operating a boarding house in a small Mississippi town in the 1950s. When their priest unexpectedly dies a new rector comes to town to take his place. He takes lodging at Martha, but she quickly suspects that something isn't on the up and up. She puts her sleuthing skills to work to try and uncover whatever it is that's going on. Funny, lighthearted and filled with easy bits of theology, this book will appeal to a wide array of readers.

    Madam Librarian