'Andrew Taylor is a master story-teller' Daily Telegraph
From the No.1 bestselling author of The Ashes of London and The Fire Court, this is the second instalment in the acclaimed Lydmouth series
When a spinster of the parish is found bludgeoned to death in St John's, and the church's most valuable possession, the Lydmouth chalice, is missing, the finger of suspicion points at the new vicar, who is already beset with problems.
The glare of the police investigation reveals shabby secrets and private griefs. Jill Francis, struggling to find her feet in her new life, stumbles into the case at the beginning. But even a journalist cannot always watch from the sidelines. Soon she is inextricably involved in the Suttons' affairs. Despite the electric antagonism between her and Inspector Richard Thornhill, she has instincts that she can't ignore . . .
'An excellent writer. He plots with care and intelligence and the solution to the mystery is satisfyingly chilling' The Times
'The most under-rated crime writer in Britain today' Val McDermid
'There is no denying Taylor's talent, his prose exudes a quality uncommon among his contemporaries' Time Out
In an English village that might otherwise seem timeless, Taylor (An Air That Kills, 1984) evokes life a few years after WWII by recalling that people complained about declining standards and women were dismissed from serious matters. Jill Francis, a young journalist, and Alec Sutton, the vicar, both new to Lydmouth, find Catherine Kymin, a woman with few friends and a crush on the vicar, dead in the church vestry. What's more, a medieval chalice and the Sunday collection are missing from the safe. Someone is also sending poison-pen letters around town about the vicar, the most virulent of which accuse Alec of theft and philandering. Detective Inspector Richard Thornhill, also new to Lydmouth, does the best he can with a detective constable who owes his promotion to his father's connections, a sergeant on leave who refuses to return phone calls in favor of following his lust, a superintendent under pressure to call in the Yard and his own increasingly ambivalent feelings about Jill. Though the case is solved within 48 hours, the story has a diffuse quality, perhaps as a result of the lack of a central character, a role held alternately by Jill, Alec and Richard, all of whom are worthy figures but none of whom grabs center stage.