The Black Seraphim

by Michael Gilbert, published 1984

IMG_3247Murder in the cathedral shakes a tranquil English town to its very foundations.

James Scotland, a young pathologist, has come to Melchester on a much-needed vacation. but amid the cathedral town’s quiet medieval atmosphere, he finds a hornet’s nest of church politics, town and country rivalries… and murder. When one of the community’s most influential figures dies suddenly (and very publicly), Scotland uncovers some curious alliances among church, state, and big business. Modern forensic pathology, the age-old mysteries of the church, and a bit of unexpected romance all play a part as Scotland unravels the unsettling truth about Melchester.

My first Michael Gilbert and it won’t be the last! Dr. James Scotland, pathologist, has been working so hard that “he fainted at the conclusion of a lecture on Morbid Anatomy. which he was giving to the students of Guy’s Hospital. Tumbled right off the edge of the rostrum and hit his head on a gallows from which was hanging a fully articulated skeleton.” Told to take a month or two off to rest he decides to return to Choristers’ School to relax and unwind. His cousin is headmaster there and James, himself, had had a temporary job teaching there between leaving school and starting at Oxford. It would be great seeing old acquaintances. Problem is he lands in the middle of a little financial difficulty at the school and MURDER!

I enjoyed Gilbert’s writing very much. There were so many characters in this book though, it was hard to keep track at first. Lots of canons and deans and bishops and husbands and wives… A light hand of humor helped along the way. The main character of Dr. Scotland was a wonderful character and I wish he had a whole series featuring him! A light romance, swindlers, scientific discoveries and murder made for a fun read.

Looking forward to reading the other Gilbert’s I have waiting on the shelf!

This fulfills the ‘Bottle/Glass for Drinking‘ category on the Silver Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt @ My Reader’s Block. That puts me at 11 on this card!

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