A Drink of Deadly Wine by Kate Charles
(Marylebone House 2015, originally published 1991)
Our book of the month for April is not new – it was originally published twenty-four years ago – but it has been recently published under the new ‘Marylebone House’ fiction imprint from SPCK. So as the author points out in her introduction to this edition there are no mobile phones, home computers or e-readers. I didn’t miss them.
This is the first book by Kate Charles that I’ve read, and I loved it. Given the current vogue for crime fiction within a clerical setting, this new edition is timely as well as attractively produced.
‘A Drink of Deadly Wine’ is well written, with believable characters, and deserving of its description by the Guardian of ‘A blood stained version of the world of Barbara Pym’ (although actually there isn’t too much blood).
The main protagonists are Father Gabriel Neville, who seems to have everything, including promotion to Archdeacon within his reach, and David Middleton-Brown, whom he has not seen for some years, but whom he must now call upon for help when his equilibrium is suddenly disturbed.
Blackmail is the cause of the upset. But who is the blackmailer, and what do they know? There are plenty of possible suspects among the congregation, all beautifully drawn and described.
As well as the mystery of the blackmail to clear up, we see a number of relationships- some very touching, some not what they seem on the outside – as we are drawn into the lives and longings of the characters.
At the end, the mystery is cleared up, but we are left wanting more. We have been drawn into a world it is hard to leave.
Happily there are more titles in the ‘Book of Psalms mystery’ series with the same sleuths, so if you like this one (and I’m sure you will) there are more to enjoy.
Reviewed by Jenny Monds, Director of Learning Resources Sarum College
Date for the diary – There will be a chance to meet Kate Charles over a glass of (hopefully not deadly) wine at Sarum College on Tuesday 5 July at 6.30pm when she will give a talk entitled ‘Murder in the Cloisters’. Tickets on sale now from the bookshop. Not to be missed!
Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £6.99 + postage until 3o April 2016. RRP £9.99.