The Gardens of the Dead
Review: Barrister-turned-monk Father Anselm finds himself investigating a mystery that begins with the death of a former colleague in The Gardens of the Dead, the second book in this series by William Brodrick.
Following the sudden death by natural causes of Elizabeth Glendinning, a barrister he had once worked with years ago, Anselm receives a package from her. The package contains a cryptic letter, a key and some old newspaper clippings. She sent similar packages to her son, Nick, and to Inspector Cartwright, a friend from her court days. Elizabeth knew she was dying so she had prepared these packages to be sent after she was dead. Although the contents mean little or nothing to the recipients, they all agree that Elizabeth was trying to tell them something very important. Actually, Elizabeth was trying to right a terrible wrong that was committed in the murder trial of Graham Riley when she and Anselm were on the same sides of the legal table. They were Riley's defense attorneys even though they both knew he was guilty. Through the cross-examination of a witness, George Bradshaw, Anselm suddenly won the case, and Riley was able to walk out of the courtroom a free man. Anselm couldn't believe it. He didn't understand what had happened. Only Elizabeth and Riley knew the answer.
Brodrick weaves the past and present lives of many other characters that are linked to Elizabeth and Anselm into the story. The Prior of the Monastery where Anselm lives offers strongly worded opinions. Elizabeth's son, who knew nothing of her life, but is obligated to follow her instructions after her death. Her husband who did know her but kept quiet to protect their son. Graham Riley and his wife, Nancy, are an integral part of the mystery, as is witness George Bradshaw whose only son drowned years before. There's the mysterious Mrs. Dixon who seems to know everything, but won't say anything. And then there's barrister Wyecliff, Riley's current counsel, who acts as though he knows nothing, but is he as ignorant as he seems? Each one has a crucial part in the mystery of why Elizabeth was so determined to right a wrong that was perpetrated years before.
The Gardens of the Dead is a such a compelling story, one that slowly but methodically reveals information about its characters as to who did what to whom and why, that it becomes a real page-turner until its surprising conclusion.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Gardens of the Dead.
Acknowledgment: Viking Press provided a copy of The Gardens of the Dead for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Gardens of the Dead: London, England
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The Gardens of the Dead by William Brodrick — A Father Anselm Mystery
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $24.95