A vicar brings a troubled past and an equally dicey future to his new pulpit at Long Farnden.
It isn’t clear why Brian Rollison asks his godson, Sandy Mackerras, to be choirmaster at his new church. Sandy is endlessly insolent to him in the home they’re sharing at the vicarage until Brian can round up digs in the nearby metropolis of Tresham. And Sandy nearly sends the choir into revolt, first by changing all the old tunes, then by slighting Farnden’s leading citizen, Mrs. Tollivery-Jones, and then by romancing two of the singers, walleyed wallflower Sharon and perky schoolteacher Rebecca, who’s lived for years with Bill Stockbridge. Still, Brian seems not only determined to put up with Sandy but to regard himself as somehow in Sandy’s debt. When a fire at the vicarage has deadly results, Brian goes to pieces, leaving Lois Meade (Terror on Tuesday, 2003, etc.) to take over. Lois has several stakes in the investigation. Sharon and Bill both work for her cleaning service, and her son Jamie has been dating Annabelle Tollivery-Jones, who’s involved with a hate group led by mysterious Max Wedderburn, a group that held a rally the night of the fire. But Lois’s mother, Gran Weedon, fears that another motive—Lois’s love/hate relationship with Chief Inspector Hunter Cowgill—may provide a not-so-innocent motive as well.
For all its complications, though, Purser’s latest village puzzler is all village and no puzzle.