I love clergy mysteries - Cadfael, Clare Fergusson, Max Tudor - so I was very excited to get an early look at All Things, the first in Amber Belldene's new series about Reverend Alma Lee, an Episcopal priest in San Francisco's Mission District. Alma is a refreshingly new kind of priest-detective: she's bisexual (and interested in both men and women on the page, not just in theory) and biracial (her father is Chinese-American and her mother is Latina), and her sexuality and cultural heritage definitely affect the way she approaches both her ministry and her crime-solving. I found Alma's personality a little frustrating at times - she's always late and doesn't understand the point of to do lists! - but that's more a me issue, and her focus on social justice was great.
Alma gets pulled into her first mystery when her longtime friend, the owner of a just-gone-out-of-business lesbian bar across the street from Alma's church, is murdered. Both Alma's police detective ex-boyfriend and her new female rabbi crush wind up involved in the case, along with others from Alma's church and social circle, which both provides Alma with an excuse to get involved and offers a nice introduction to her world and her past. The mystery itself is a little thin, and experienced mystery readers will probably figure out whodunnit pretty early. But this one is still worth a read for the interesting characters and the world it creates, and I'll definitely try the next in the series.
All Things is out today! (The author provided me with a review copy of this book.)