Most helpful positive review
An excellent historical mystery with a unique motive
on 9 January 2010
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