From the international bestselling author of Fatherland and Munich, a gripping mystery and a fascinating cautionary tale.
"All civilizations consider themselves invulnerable; history warns us that none is."
1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote English village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts—coins, fragments of glass, human bones—which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?
As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes—about himself, his faith and the history of his world—is tested to destruction.
Thriller Award winner Harris (Munich) does a masterly job playing with readers' expectations in this mystery set in 15th-century England. Fr. Christopher Fairfax has been dispatched by his bishop to Wessex to officiate at the funeral of Fr. Thomas Lacy, a parish priest who died in a fall. The assignment seems routine enough, but on reaching the town of Addicott St. George, he finds unexpected questions to answer. When he visits Lacy's library, he learns that the man he's about to inter in consecrated ground possessed numerous heretical volumes relating to an antiquarian society proscribed by the church. Eager to keep things uncomplicated, Fairfax proceeds with the funeral service as if he'd never seen the books, only to have the rites disrupted by an attendee who yells that Lacy's death was not the result of "evil chance." When foul weather delays Fairfax's departure, he finds even more oddities, including the disappearance of the church register and an unsettling letter by a Cambridge professor found in a mass grave, which supports his suspicion that Lacy's interest in the past was more than innocent scholarly curiosity. Few readers will pick up on the fairly planted clues. This is a clever complement to Harris's debut mystery, Fatherland. 75,000-copy announced first printing.