A sleuthing clergyman gets more than he bargained for when he delves into war records to clear the reputation of a fellow monk.
Father Anselm, beekeeper of Larkwood Priory and a former barrister, meets distraught Kate Seymour at the grave of his deceased friend, Father Herbert Moore. She impugns Moore’s reputation, implying misconduct during the first world war, though in vague terms. Anselm and Herbert were close friends who shared their journeys to Larkwood in a search for life’s meaning. Nonagenarian Father Sylvester swears that Herbert never in his life mentioned World War I, but the prior gives Anselm a letter that Herbert was holding next to his heart at the time of his death. Addressed to a Pvt. Harold Shaw of the British Expeditionary Force, it gives Anselm a solid starting point for the investigation the prior gently insists he undertake. From here, the story branches off into two parallel tracks, with Capt. Herbert Moore injured on the front lines in 1917 and Anselm gathering as much intel as he can at the Public Record Office before his planned meeting with Kate Seymour. The picture gets much darker before it clears, with implications of desertion, a military trial, and a fatal relationship.
The third of six mysteries in Brodrick’s cycle (The Discourtesy of Death, 2017, etc.), this complex thriller, winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award, explores some of life’s biggest moral questions and puts a human face on the war to end all wars.