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Ostara Publishing

Clerical Crime Series

Crime fiction set within a church or ecclesiastical environment or with a theological principal character.

Archdeacons Afloat - C A Alington

“A ship in which strange ladies addressed unknown archdeacons by night, and fled screaming at the sight of their faces, was something entirely foreign to his experiences, and promised ill for a peaceful holiday .... Never, since a rural dean (subsequently suspected of hydrophobia) had endeavoured to bite him in the leg, had he had so unpleasant an adventure.”
Clerical Errors - D M Greenwood

The screaming was coming from the St Manicus chapel...with measured and reluctant haste Julia turned in its direction as she came around the corner, she saw a fat middle-aged woman holding on to the edge of the font at the back of the chapel. Julia Smiths first day of work in the diocesan office of St Manicus did not unfold as she might have hoped. Confused by the ecclesiastical intrigue of the Dean and Chapter, the shocked Julia is taken under the wing of the young deaconess, Theodora Braithwaite.
Unholy Ghosts - D M Greenwood

‘Theodora Braithwaite drove fast down the straight Roman Road which was the only road into and out of Norfolk…the end of the journey was in sight. With every smooth gear-change she felt the recent, haunting past slip away from her. The agonised faces of the freshly bereaved or betrayed grew less insistent.’
Holy Terrors - D M Greenwood

Jessica fixed her eye with simulated interest on the Reverend Robert Mere and felt her way down the immense and comforting depth of her right-hand skirt pocket. Two toffees, her asthma inhaler, locker key and a dog lead gave place at the very bottom of her pocket to a solid metal object, round which her fingers curled. She jangled it between her thumb and two fingers, caressing the smooth cool metal and warming it into life. While her hand held it, she felt safe.
Idol Bones - D M Greenwood

The Reverend Theodora Braithwaite’s attention wandered. She peered out of the carriage window at the flat, rain-swept fenland and wondered what the immediate future held in store for her. She was thirty years old, a woman in deacon’s orders in the Church of England. She had set herself as part of the discipline of following a vocation properly not to mind where she was sent nor to become too attached to any settled pattern of life.
Every Deadly Sin - D M Greenwood

“The discovery and sponsoring of the shrine was the work of a remarkable man. The Reverend Augustine Bellaire was not perhaps entirely orthodox in every respect. Certainly he allowed himself to invent tradition when he felt the greater good was so served. In his own person too there was flamboyance which some found difficult to tolerate. His taste in clerical dress ran to the colourful and, his enemies had it, popish. He was invariably accompanied by a pair of large deer-hounds which went with him into chapel at St Sylvan’s and slept under the pulpit. He had a fine tenor voice and was inclined to sing the entire liturgy unaided and unaccompanied. As age advanced he became unpredictable and suffered, it was observed, from violent swings of mood. He would allow no vehicles within two miles of St Sylvan’s and there was neither television, wireless nor newspapers in the guest-house. He died in 1988 but his spirit hovered yet, so his friends asserted, over the place he had loved.”
Mortal Spoils - D M Greenwood

“Tom approached the figure carefully, mindful of the old adage about letting sleeping bishops lie. When he was within a couple of feet of the chair, he cleared his throat. There was no response. Tom was nonplussed. He’d not read anything in his business studies course which gave him a formula for dealing with clerics asleep in security cleared zones…… He stepped a little nearer. Something in the angle of the man’s head struck him. Very gently he put his hand on the shoulder and shook it. The figure, as though dislodged from a niche, slid calamitously forward onto the floor.”
Heavenly Vices - D M Greenwood

‘I’ve wished him dead many and many a time.’ ‘Who hasn’t? You mustn’t blame yourself for that.’ ‘He did so much damage. The college … as Warden …’ The Reverend Matthew Brink gestured in his actorly way at the tall French window of his drawing room. Rain battered the glass and bounced off the stone paving of the terrace beyond; each massive drop created its own small fountain. The summer had been dry. Autumn promised a relief. ‘I mean,’ Brink pressed on, ‘Gracemount has always held its head up among theological colleges. It had a certain decorum. The bishops knew their young men were in safe hands here.’
A Grave Disturbance - D M Greenwood

‘She glanced at the small figure beside her. He was dressed like an old-fashioned prep-school master in a pepper and salt tweed jacket with leather at the cuffs and elbows and faded fawn cords. His long, rather lugubrious face reminded her of Labradors she had known. His hair, which was plentiful and neatly cut in a military shape, looked as though it had been fair but was now grey. She noticed a tic in his left cheek, not pronounced but suggesting nervousness at odds with his ordinary appearance. There was, she detected, some strain, some reticence. He imitated normality with deliberation, as a drunk might act sobriety, over-conscientiously. What was he concealing or suffering?’
Foolish Ways - D M Greenwood

‘The Bishop remained calm and had no intention of leaving the site. It was his conference, his first in his new diocese, his first in Episcopal orders. He was blessed if anything was going to stop him setting targets, getting things under way, making, above all, changes. He gathered Peach, Worsted and the Archdeacon. ‘We must all remain calm,’ said Worsted, unwisely taking the lead. His hands were trembling. Someone, he just knew it, was going to blame him for all this.’
Murder in a Nunnery - Eric Shepherd

Written by Eric Shepherd, a onetime professor of English Literature at the University of Malta Murder in a Nunnery was inspired by his latter career teaching at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Roehampton. In the fictional Harrington Convent one of its more challenging inhabitants, Baroness Sliema is found murdered, Chief Inspector Pearson of Scotland Yard is called to solve the crime. He discovers the Convent is governed by a particularly shrewd and omniscient Reverend Mother and we meet a varied and entertaining cast of characters observed with wit and charm. Shepherd describes the world of a Convent with its colourful, and in some cases unlikely, inhabitants with sympathy and humour making for a gentle and entertaining tale.
More Murder in a Nunnery - Eric Shepherd

Written several years after Murder in a Nunnery, but set only two years after the events of the first book More Murder in a Nunnery takes the reader back to the world of the fictional Harrington Convert A body neatly wrapped in brown paper is found by the gardener, Mr Turtle, on his garden rubbish heap. The police are again summoned to the Convent and we meet again the now Deputy Commissioner Pearson along with many of the characters so charmingly and empathetically described in the first book
Murder At The Altar - Veronica Heley

‘It was two days since the funeral. Ellie had told everyone she would be perfectly all right on her own, but of course she wasn’t. The pills the doctor had given her weren’t helping, either. She couldn’t sleep at night, and felt half asleep all day. She knew she would feel more alive if she stopped taking the pills, but she wasn’t sure she could cope if she did……………A heavy-set woman burst out of the side door of the church, arms flailing. Ellie registered that this was unusual, but did not move.Mrs Dawes ran down the path from the church. Ellie felt a faint stir of interest. She’d never seen the stately Mrs Dawes run before.Mrs Dawes fought her way through the gate which led from the church grounds into the alley. Crossing the alley she wrenched open the gate into Ellie’s garden. Mrs Dawes’ face was red and her padded olive-green coat flapped around her as she pounded her way up the garden and banged on Ellie’s kitchen door’
Murder By Suicide - Veronica Heley

In a green and yellow kitchen, a woman drew the blind down over the window so that nobody could see in. She pulled on some Marigold yellow gloves and took a pad of multicoloured paper out of a drawer. She assembled a ruler and biro beside her mug of coffee. The slut must be punished, driven out of the parish. Only then would justice be done. The woman in the yellow gloves enjoyed the sense of power this letter-writing gave her. As she reached for the biro, she jarred her mug of coffee and spilt some on the table. She mopped it up quickly. Only a few drops stained the edge of the pad. Nothing to worry about. No one was going to trace the letters back to her.
Murder by Accident - Veronica Heley

I wouldn’t try to get out, if I were you. The handle on the front door’s been wired to the mains. Other things, too, so be careful what you touch! Ha! Ha!’ The front door slammed shut. Was it a bluff, or was the handle electrified? Ellie backed away from the door. ‘Be careful what you touch …’ She put her hands down at her sides, and looked around her. She wouldn’t touch anything – no, not anything – till she was sure it was safe. She spotted the phone by the overturned table. Dare she try it? Would that be electrified, too? They couldn’t afford to let her go. She would have to die, preferably in another ‘accident’. Sooner or later she would make a mistake and come into contact with one of their little surprises. If she touched anything which had been booby-trapped, she wouldn’t just get a mild shock; it would kill her.
Murder of Innocence - Veronica Heley

Smoke seeped under the door. She’d always been afraid of fire. She got the boy to help her, and in the dark they felt around for something, anything, to prevent the smoke suffocating them. Any old towel would do. The sides of the door fitted pretty well. Not so much smoke came in now. Would it be better to die of suffocation than to burn alive? Ellie tried the door again, and again. Immovable. The house was empty except for the two of them, shut into that tiny room with no means of escape. There was no window, and the fire was gaining ground around them. It would be easy to give way to hysteria. Calm down. How long since that fiend in human form had shut them in? How long would it take for the fire to reach her … or the smoke to suffocate her … and the boy? Breathing wasn’t getting any easier …
Murder in the Garden - Veronica Heley

“There is nothing more irritating to a grown woman than to be told ‘you don’t want to see this’, so naturally Ellie hastened down her own pretty garden, into the alley, and up through the gate into Kate’s. The untrimmed bushes, brambles and saplings which had covered the garden for the last umpteen number of years had been crudely scraped off and dumped in a skip. Halfway up the garden, a pit had been excavated to form the top pool of a new water feature, and the topsoil from that hole had been dumped in the skip on top of the vegetation. Kate and Armand had wanted a small upper pool, with a trickle of water from a large bamboo pipe feeding a larger lower pool, which would then be recycled back up the slope via a pump. There had evidently been no problem cutting out the upper pool, but the machine had just started on the lower one when … something white had appeared in the grab. Billy’s mate got down from his seat. ‘I never dug up one of them afore.’”
Murder by Committee - Veronica Heley

“She didn’t like people shouting at her, but managed to give him a civil reply. ‘You remind me of Pooh-Bah, or Lord High Everything, a character invented by W. S. Gilbert. You probably don’t know The Mikado, though I expect your mother taught you manners when you were a child.’ She stood up, signalling to Kate that she’d had enough. ‘I don’t think I can help you with … whatever it is you want.’ ‘Didn’t you hear me say that I don’t need you to sort this out?’ She nodded, eyebrows raised, making for the door. He shouted after her, ‘Tell Gwyn I’m not impressed!’ Ellie paused in the doorway. ‘Neither am I.’”
Murder by Bicycle - Veronica Heley

When a nasty outbreak of food poisoning afflicts the congregation of Ellie's church following a Faith lunch, Ellie is horrified to find her home-baked quiche cast as the culprit. Worse, it's clear that some of the parishioners think the poisoning was deliberate? Fighting off the relentless demands of her daughter Diana, and plagued by toothache, Ellie's life is beset with problems, complicated by the romantic attentions of not one but two suitors. Then a second wave of poisonings affects the community, and Ellie's investigative antennae are aroused. For all are connected with her young friend Felicity's past life?
Murder of Identity - Veronica Heley

While out collecting laurel for formidable flower arranger Mrs Dawes, feisty widow Ellie Quicke comes across a corpse without an identity. Next day, Ellie discovers Mrs Dawes badly beaten and close to death. Much to Ellie's dismay, the police think shaven-headed Neil, Mrs Dawes' grandson, is responsible, even after a third body comes to light . . . So who has lost their identity and who has gained it?
Crime At Dianas Pool - Victor L Whitechurch

“both men uttered a fresh exclamation of horror. The face of the man was not that of the black-bearded bandsman whose jacket he was wearing. The man they had found stabbed in the back and lying in Diana’s pool was their host - Felix Nayland!”
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