Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Ancaster Demons

By Norman Russell

Dean Girdlestone is a man of conscience. And as the head of Ancaster Cathedral, his conscience tells him that the beautiful stained glass window of the cathedral and the four statues of angels on the roof of the cathedral are idols that need to be destroyed. To take care of the window, he plans to build a school that will block the sun from shining through the window. To take care of the statues, he orders them removed. Of course, many people are outraged at his plans. One of those people is Nicholas Arkwright.
Nicholas has known Gridlestone since they were boys at school together and he has always disliked him. He has even had dreams in which he killed the Dean. So when the Dean turns up murdered, Nicholas, who is on powerful medication, thinks he must have done it and confesses to the police.
But there is more going on with the cathedral than Girdlestone's destructive plans. Someone has been embezzling from the cathedral accounts. And the finger points to Girdlestone himself. But then why was he killed? Because of his planned alterations to the cathedral or because he knew who the real embezzler was?

This was a pretty good book. It is set in late-Victorian England and takes the reader into the world church politics and small town rivalry. Nicholas is a dopey, but appealing character and Girdlestone, whom you want to hate because of what he wants to do to the cathedral, turns out to be pretty decent if misguided. The other characters are just as interesting, including Girdlestone's widow who fairly dances for joy when she learns of her husband's demise. It was an interesting mystery and an enjoyable read.

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