Turmoil in the Church of England.
Callie Anson, newly appointed Curate of All Saints, Paddington, has annoyed Bishop Brian Stanford by tending to a parishioner without him, antagonized his wife Jane by usurping her role at a fete and earned the complete and utter enmity of stuffy Father Vincent and Nigerian-born Father Jonah, stalwarts of the Forward in Faith conservative brigade, by being a woman cleric. Even her ex-beau Adam, the new curate at Christ Church, has abandoned her for a more traditional fiancée, the compliant Pippa. Her one ally is her mentor Frances Cherry. But Frances will soon be charged with the murder of Father Jonah, who has been strangled, as the tabloids gleefully report, with her communion stole. DI Neville Stewart suspects Frances is hiding something, but his belief that she and Area Dean Leo Jackson, a charismatic black prelate, conspired to kill Father Jonah to hide their affair is way off the mark. Leo is gay and in love for the first time in his life with, alas, a rent-boy, young Oliver, leaving the press to go wild, the homophobes, racists and sexists to mouth off, and DS Mark Lombardi and Callie’s gay brother Peter to piece together the real story.
Longtime fans of Charles’s parish-oriented mysteries (Evil Angels Among Them, 1995, etc.) and the long-winded ecclesiastical mystery will have ample time to contemplate church protocol and missteps. Others might want to skip out before the sermon is over.