'A woman priest at St Margaret's? Over my dead body!'
Dolly Topping, head of the national organisation 'Ladies Opposed to Women Priests' and wife of one of the churchwardens, feels that strongly about it. It is unfortunate, therefore, that Father Julian, the well-loved curate of St Margaret's, should have been killed in a burglary gone wrong. And doubly unfortunate that the Vicar, upwardly-aspiring William Keble Smythe, should choose to appoint a woman to replace him. From the moment that Rachel Nightingale enters the serene Anglo-Catholic world of St Margaret's, tempers and emotions run high; Christian charity is not much in evidence, even among those who espouse it most loudly.
Meanwhile, solicitor David Middleton-Brown finds his life complicated by difficult clients and a trying visit from Lucy Kingsley's teenage niece Ruth. Then he becomes involved as an unwilling pawn in a dangerous game of bluff and double bluff between a pair of scheming churchwardens and a Vicar with an agenda of his own. Why are Martin Bairstow and Norman Topping determined to sell the church's silver? Why is Father Keble Smythe prepared to allow them to do it? And what does it all have to do with the new female curate? Most importantly of all, perhaps, why has no one told David about what happened to their last curate?
Then another 'accidental' death at St Margaret's unites its parishioners in new heights of hypocrisy, and leaves Ruth Kingsley crying 'murder'. But David remains sceptical - until he learns about Father Julian's death. With the encouragement of the Archdeacon and interference from Ruth, he and Lucy embark on a search for the truth about the 'dead man out of mind', and discover more than they ever wanted to know about greed, hypocrisy, ambition - and the cost of love.
"The modern ecclesiastical mystery... is a fast-growing sub-group of whodunnitry; no one is more skilled at it than Kate Charles. With the lightest of touches, she weaves the goriest murders into a convincing and provocative backdrop of clerical politics... Thoroughly entertaining, even to those of no religious bent." (The Times [London])
"The plot is absolutely gripping, and what's more, a few of the characters actually display Christian charity." (Church Times)
"Bless her for elevating our spirits with this unorthodox work."
(The New York Times Book Review)
"Along with its adroitly drawn main characters, this gripping novel offers a finely etched supporting cast."
(Publishers Weekly [starred review])
"Charles portrays the Church of England as more bitchy, and with more egotistic pretty boys, than a Julian Clary lookalike convention. Shades of Agatha Christie machinations, but with rather more attention to character." (Yorkshire Post)