A puzzling murder mystery. A tough new case for Detective Wycliffe to investigate.
A bizarre murder shakes a quiet Cornish village. Arriving at the church on Easter morning, the vicar finds the body of a woman sprawled across the chancel steps. To add to the horror, the church is filled with the discordant sound of an organ chord, the notes apparently chosen at random and wedged down.
How has the church been desecrated by a Satanic ritual? Chief Superintendent Wycliffe sees the crime more as an expression of hatred deep within the community, but his investigation is frustrated at every turn, throwing up more questions than answers.
Then another murder is committed, as shocking as the first. Wycliffe thinks he knows the killer's identity - but can he prove it?
Burley's 18th Inspector Wycliffe mystery (after Wycliffe and the Dead Flautist ) astutely examines the damaged psyches of the victim and the suspects, while fully detailing the comings and goings of a good copper in a quiet Cornish village. Dead is Jessica Dobbell, a woman who cleaned the church in the town of Moresk and led a life of well-documented promiscuity, including among her conquests her twin sister's husband. Jessica's body is found in the church on Easter morning, posed near the altar with her clothes pulled apart; five keys on the organ are forced down with wedges of paper in a pattern of notes that must be a clue. There is a teenaged boy whom everyone assumes to be gay, a pastor whose sexual orientation is less obvious, a couple who had lived with the dead woman and have clearly fallen from grace and various other dark souls, virtually all of whom bore a grudge against Jessica and possess a modicum of musical theory. Wycliffe insinuates himself into this small town, carefully probing at raw emotional nerves until he finds the killer. Burley is an unspectacular stylist, yet every piece of this unassuming work fits precisely.