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Hard Cider Abbey

A Barefoot Monk Mystery
Written by: K. P. Cecala
Narrated by: Adam Barr
Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Hard Cider Abbey is a contemporary and faintly irreverent take on monastery murder. Two quirky young monk-sleuths stumble through an investigation into a beloved monk's mysterious death. 

The Monastery of the Holy Face, nicknamed "Hard Cider Abbey" for the brew its monks produce from their own orchard, sits on an Appalachian mountaintop in West Virginia, just outside the old mining town of Skerritville. Brother Odo, just 20 years old and mute from childhood trauma, transfers into the abbey from a dissolved monastery in Quebec, and almost immediately comes upon the body of the abbey librarian, Father Lucian. He is soon befriended by Brother Emerick, a native of Skerritville, an Afghanistan combat veteran and former opioid addict. Emerick develops his own way of communicating with Odo, who will play an important role in unravelling Father Lucian's secret life. 

The young monks are drawn first beyond the monastery walls, looking for suspects in Skerritville with connections to the abbey - such as a lady horticulturalist with a penchant for religious men, and her jealous husband. But eventually they are forced to turn back within the monastery, and to the odd band of  eccentric, troubled men within. The mystery is solved with a unique twist - and a visit to Purgatory! 

This book is the first in a series, based on the monks of Hard Cider Abbey. 

From Booklife: "A thoroughly engaging and well-plotted mystery...Cecala presents a cast of eccentric side characters and memorable protagonists, particularly Brother Odo, an endearing outsider who unwittingly becomes immersed in a murder mystery. The story is infused with quirky local flavor and subtle humor, and the unique backdrop of an isolated monastery in the Appalachians of West Virginia further sets the mystery apart."

©2018, 2019 K.P. Cecala (P)2019 K.P. Cecala
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  • Laura
  • 2020-01-21

Intriguing Mystery

I received this book for free. I am voluntarily posting this review and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

This takes place at a monastery where they brew hard apple cider and sell it in town. The monks, in general, do not behave in what would be considered very "godlike." Several of them drink alcohol, do not maintain their vow of chastity and may have homosexual inclinations. If any of this bothers you, you will not enjoy the book.

The main character, Biff, has been living at the monastery but is not a priest. He is seeking refuge after coming home from the war and experiencing severe PTSD. His mentor at the monastery is found deceased in a manner mostly consistent with suicide. But Biff does not want to believe it and against everyone's wishes, starts to investigate. I found the characters in this story to be interesting and the mystery was intriguing. This is not a fast-paced action-oriented story. It moves along at a fairly leisurely pace as you get to know the main character Biff, his family and several of the townspeople. I mostly enjoyed the character of Odo, a monk who has been newly transferred to this monastery and thought to be mute. The relationship between Biff and Odo was captivating as they found a way to communicate and rely upon one another.

The narrator, Adam Barr, did a wonderful job with the various accents and characters. His narration certainly drew me into the story and made it more enjoyable.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nanci R
  • 2019-10-03

Multi-layered mystery with an intriguing setting

Murder inside a monastery is not entirely new, but K.P. Cecala does it extremely well. The characters are well-drawn and the mystery is a good one! I'll look forward to more adventures of Brothers Odo and Emmerich.

The narration is top-notch, with well-defined accents and good differentiation between speakers.

I received a free copy of this audiobook and am leaving a voluntary and honest review.