Archdeacon Sidney Chambers doesn’t look for murders. They just happen to find him. This is what happens on a tranquil day when he and daughter Anna are walking in the woods. They almost trip over the body of a man. He’s obviously dead and the circumstances of his death lead Sidney to believe that he’s been murdered.
With his good friend DI Geordie Keating, Sidney finds himself involved in solving this murder and subsequent mysteries which include the theft of a valuable religious text; a case of unethical dealings in the art world (involving his friend Amanda); and the disappearance of his nephew.
These cases all have to do with love in one way or another and love plays a part in the problems that Sidney has to deal with in his parish. Whether it be forbidden love, or love of self, or love of possessions, ultimately Sidney has to approach each instance with compassion and understanding. When he is met with a personal loss, Sidney struggles with his faith to understand the “why” of what has happened. He knows that somehow, the love that he holds in his heart will see him through this ordeal.
When Jury’s friend, Sir Oswald Maples, asks him to meet with Maples’ friend, Tom Williamson, Jury finds himself investigating a death that took place seventeen years previously. The death of Williamson’s wife, Tess, was ruled as an accidental fall, due to her chronic vertigo. However, Williamson has never really believed that Tess fell to her death, yet has never been able to explain exactly how she did fall.
Meanwhile in Long Piddleton, police are in full force in the area of Tower Cottage where the body of a young woman has been found at the base of the tower. Did she fall? Was this suicide? Or was something more sinister at work here?
Grimes peppers this novel with classic film references: Lawrence of Arabia, Casablanca, and Hitchcock’s Vertigo (a wonderful film about doppelgangers), all seemingly innocuous until the two deaths (and two others – one in the past, and one in the present), start to merge.
Slowly, Jury is able to put the pieces together with help from Plant and through a suggestion from the infamous Harry Johnson (he of The Old Wine Shades). Alas, Johnson’s story is still unfinished, and so I await the next installment in Jury’s cases, hoping that finally he’ll be able to bring Johnson to justice.