Charles, a masterly chronicler of English High Church rites and their practitioners (Appointed to Die, etc.), tackles the odd goings-on at London's paired churches--St, Margaret's and St. Jude's. A bungled robbery at St. Margaret's has left young curate Father Julian Piper dead and pushed Father Keble Smythe, the vicar, into hiring curate Rachel Nightingale to ease his workload--thus infuriating the parish's anti-women-clerics contingent, headed by vitriolic Dolly Topping. Rachel is no stranger to Emily Neville, wife of Archdeacon Gabriel, who knew her at Cambridge before the tragic car accident that took her daughter's life and left her husband in a long-term coma. Meanwhile, church members Lucy Kingsley and lawyer David Middleton-Brown, who live together, are playing short-term hosts to Lucy's niece Ruth, a teenager from hell who develops a powerful case of hero-worship for Rachel and is devastated when she's killed, in an apparent hit-and-run. Ruth's doubts about the ""accident"" are shared by David, who quietly begins investigating a possible connection to the death of Father Julian, still unsolved; to the recent appearance of a stolen silver chalice in Christie's catalogue; and to the marriage-certification case of his young client Justin Thymine. The incredibly involved murder mystery plays second fiddle to a fascinating array of characters and a close-up look into their crisscrossing, frustrating, intimate lives. Devotees of traditional English village sagas will love this fourth in the series; puzzle fans may be put off by its overcontrived red herrings--and overleisurely pace.