The Coven Murders was not exactly the right book for me. It is a much better book for someone who is more religiously inclined (and probably also doesn't read nearly as much horror as I do.) While I do feel like the elements of the coven, its rituals and beliefs, felt real enough, I had trouble taking them seriously. There were several times during the book, with earnest dialogue between characters, that I found myself giggling and scolding myself with a firm "Yep, yep, you're definitely going to Hell." Even though the daemonic element is normally one that scares the bejesus out of me, and there was at least one legitimately creepy scene involving the largest casting out I've ever read about, I just could not commit myself to suspending disbelief for the book. Which is kind of stupid because if spiritual evil does exist, its probably most honestly described here than it is any of my climbing-on-the-ceiling horrors that I normally read.
I feel like I was hampered a bit by not reading the previous two books in the series because I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d known the characters a bit better. As it was, I couldn’t really get the rhythm of some of the relationships that had been long established for a good bit of the book, so it felt a bit off. My chief complaint though, and the only one that's a true criticism of the book rather than an acknowledgement of my own strangeness, is that it felt like all the 'bad guys' were blindingly obvious. A good portion of the first half of the read was spent with me mentally yelling at the characters and wondering how in the world a bunch of police could be that obtuse. I would have liked for there to have been a bit of, well, mystery involved there.
However, by the end of the book I was eager to see everything resolved. Even though it seemed obvious exactly what was going on, I was still interested enough to finish reading it. The story moves along at a nice clip. The detectives seem like a solid assortment of 'good guys' (and gals). The charm of the country (as well as its foibles) was obvious and endearing. I had found a certain affection starting to burgeon for a few of the members of the force. The way the book ended, while not a surprise, still managed to make me feel a pang of sadness for one of the unlucky fellows involved with things.
For someone who doesn't read much traditional horror, but still wants to give themselves a tingle, The Coven Murders would be worth checking out. It's a nicely-written mystery that is probably nearly perfect for the target audience. Unfortunately, my heathen self wasn't the target audience. Still, it was a nice read and I don't regret picking it up.