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First Sentence: There was just one figure on the deck of the ship at four o'clock in the morning.

The Chancellor of the Cathedral at Compton has been found dead in his chamber by his servant. Together with the doctor and undertaker, they arrange for no one else to see the body. Upon discovering her brother was one of the richest men in England, The Chancellor's sister, married to a wastrel, hires Powerscourt to find out how her brother died and, if murdered, find the killer. After another death, Powerscourt comes to suspect the motives are very different than anything he's dealt with before.

Dickinson opened with an excellent opening that drew me into the story and the characters. He has a unique voice with almost a lightness to it that indicates just how much he enjoys his characters and writing his books.

I love his characters; Powerscourt, whom the author allows occasional mental flights of fancy and wonderful wry humor; Johnnie Fitzgerald, the Irishman who loves wine and bird watching; William McKenzie, the tea-totaling Protestant Scotsman who can follow a suspect for days, and Powerscourt's beloved wife, Lucy. His secondary characters are equally strong, particularly Patrick and Anne.

The historical information may set me running to the internet, but I always Dickinson's research holds true. I appreciated the important, but concise, definitions of the various roles of the church figures, the information on the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 and learning the difference between the ritualists and the Evangelicals in the Anglican Church at this time. I do caution that Catholics will probably not like this book.

The plot was excellent and built bit-by-bit; body-by-body. There is a very good balance of anticipation and horror and the revelations along with an excellent segment on the motives of murder. The ending was well done, particularly the thoughts and feelings Powerscourt had toward the killer.

While someone commented on there being anachronisms, I did not notice them. What I did notice was a very strong sense of time and place. This was an excellent book in a series which has become a favorite of mine and one highly recommend.

DEATH OF A CHANCELLOR (Hist Mys-Lord Francis Powerscourt-England-1901/Gaslight) - Ex
Dickinson, David - 4th in series
Constable & Robinson, Ltd., 2005, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 1841197785
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on 22 May 2013
The Powerscourt series of mystery stories review current issues in the guise of late Victorian/Edwardian detective stories. Whether the author is doing this consciously or unconsciously I do not know, but realising it is happening adds spice. This one is about an attempt by a crew of renegade Anglican clergy to take over an Anglican Cathedral in the name of the Roman Catholics. Their guns are spiked only at the very last minute by the use of cavalry. For me it reminiscent of Benedict XVI's attempt to hi-jack Anglican clergy in the face of his own priest-supply crisis. Be that as it may, the story is nicely told and the period well evoked. The climax is exciting and, just barely, plausible. Throughout the author is partisan to the Anglican position, and if the reader cannot tolerate this it may spoil the book. A second-generation atheist friend found the Protestant/RC clash incomprehensible. I did not like the Roman Church described as simply 'Catholic' throughout; there are also of course Orthodox Catholics (lots in Greece and Russia), Anglo-catholics, Old Catholics, even Quaker catholics I'm told.
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on 30 May 2013
The Powerscourt novels are fun in an undemanding way - don't look for 3-dimensional characters or subtlety of any nature - but they are wryly humorous with a generally simpatico air. The period background & feel are authentic enough if you can swallow the whale of incongruous plotting & the blithe overriding of historical truth. But the utter disregard for genuine historical context in this one begins to feel like contempt for the intelligence of the reader. It has a silly plot & a nasty, sectarian tone that suggest the author is getting complacent about his readership. Avoid this one & enjoy some of the others - they may be equally silly in parts but they don't leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 March 2006
This was my second David Dickenson's murder mystery and I just loved every page of it.
I found it even better than "Goodnight Sweet Prince" as the characters have become more rounded, full and kind of personal. Lord Francis Powerscourt, the main character, and his wife Lucy, their children Thomas and Olivia but as well their best friends Johnny Fitzgerald are personalities one can bond with. Their relationship and friendships are described by their deeds and not by my grand words. I like that very much.
The plot is excellent. Final Revenge after 350 years... well I am not going to say more about it. Just one more hint: turn a stone in a cathedral and one never knows what will creep out!
David Dickenson puts his education and background to excellent use. His description of the end of the Victorian area is superb. He describes the net-working of the most powerful in a most convincing manner. And gets his history right!
But most divine is his description of Augusta Cockburn - here he hit the head of the nail. This must be a perfect role for any actress. She would surely win the Oscar as best supporting actress for it.
Anyway, I suppose you have got my message by now: 5 stars
Go and buy this intoxicating book and meet Lord Francis, his friends and family and enjoy a great murder mystery! I am going to get my “third dose” soon as two more books
by David Dickenson are waiting.
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on 14 November 2013
I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three books in this series and when I started reading, thought this would be the same. Oh dear, murderous converts to the Catholic faith? As a convert myself I have never felt the urge to murder the local Anglican clergy and claim back an old church and neither did my fellow converts from the turn of the century. They were to busy shaping the fledgling Catholic community. However can see the temptation to make a plot. Also got cross with the regular use of the phrase 'If you know, or you see what I mean'

Not your best David
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
For these period mysteries it's vital to get the detail right. Dickenson doesn't always. Eg worshippers at a cathedral are described as "old-age pensioners" altho' it's set several years before Lloyd-George introduced the first pensions. DD is not the only period author to fail to realise that "bloody" was a swear-word not used in front of ladies even a generation ago. A free-spoken Irish peer might have used it in his own family, but not in front of a vicar's widow, as here. He seems unaware of forms of Anglican service which are crucial to the story. But worst of all, he has a barrel of strong ale served on the same day it is delivered to the pub.
If these sort of details don't bother you, it's a pretty good story.
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on 10 July 2013
Yet again David Dickinson weaves a breathtaking web of intrigue and suspense around a most fascinating subject. So clear and creative are the pictures, sounds and feelings his writing evokes one begins to think this may not all be fiction! An excellent book which I would highly recommend to anyone - murder mystery fan or not! This book gives one more than one could have bargained for both in writing style and content.
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on 27 September 2013
I am really enjoying this series of books by David Dickinson. Not the type of book I would usually read, but I have to admit I like the characters and the plots, and It's nice to have something different to my usual vampires and werewolves! It's nice to read a book set in the past, that gives you a wee bit of history as well as a good story. Got number 5 in the series too, so definitely a fan!
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on 18 August 2014
The scenario of the plot was too fantastic to be believable. It added insult to injury to use the name of a well know Passionist priest, Fr Dominic Barberi who died in 1849 as the name of a Jesuit priest who was supposed to be responsible for much of what happens. More research by the author would be called for
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on 29 July 2013
This is the fourth book in an impressive series about an unusual but likeable private investigator. Set at the end of Queen Victoria's reign and with a complex plot mixed in with a well researched background, I couldn't put this book down.
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