cover image Murder in the Cathedral

Murder in the Cathedral

Cora Harrison. Severn, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5052-2

Set in the late 1920s, Harrison’s outstanding ninth whodunit featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas (after 2021’s Murder in an Orchard Cemetery) opens with an unexpected visit from Dr. Thompson, the bishop of Cork’s Anglican Church of Ireland. Thompson reports that one of the Reverend Mother’s pupils, seven-year-old Enda O’Sullivan, has died. Someone poisoned the communion wine at the Protestant cathedral with cyanide, killing its archdeacon, Dr. Hearn. According to the bishop, the Reverend Mother’s ally on the force, Insp. Patrick Cashman, believes that the murderer bribed Enda to put the cyanide in the archdeacon’s cup by giving the boy some chocolates injected with the poison to cover up his crime. Given Hearn’s wide unpopularity, the Reverend Mother and the inspector have plenty of suspects to consider in their probe. Harrison does a masterly job combining plot and characterization and resolves the puzzle satisfactorily, but the book’s real strength is her heartfelt evocation of the lives of Cork’s impoverished citizens and the Reverend Mother’s dedication to helping them. This series ranks near the top among mysteries with a religious lead. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Sept.)