Third in the author's tales of life and death among the Anglican clergy finds Reverend Theodora Braithwaite (Unholy Ghosts, etc.) on loan to the country cathedral of Bow St. Aelfric, where Dean Vincent Stream has just been installed. The pompous, self- promoting new Dean has already raised hackles among members of the Chapter—among them casually dressed, car-loving Archdeacon Gold, Canon Erica Millhaven, and choleric Archdeacon Riddable, to say nothing of vergers Tristam Knight and Nick Squires. Add to the list Oliver Fresh, head of an impoverished but self-sufficient community living on land soon to be sold by the church. The sudden unearthing, on cathedral ground, of an ancient bronze figure of a two-faced Janus sparks new controversy—a controversy that climaxes with the discovery of Stream's murdered body, carefully laid beside the Janus, the morning after his official welcoming party. Theodora is soon pressed into service by old acquaintance Inspector Spruce to gather inside information while he explores alibis and backgrounds. A simple plot lurks beneath layers of church lore, formidably intellectual chitchat, and a jumpy narrative—heady stuff for some; a slightly pretentious bore for most.
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