Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Salisbury Manuscript
English Cathedral Mystery series # 1

by Philip Gooden

      Young solicitor Tom Ansell has been charged with a slightly unusual mission; he must travel down from London to Salisbury to collect an old book.  This is a diary, written by the father of a respected cathedral canon who was something of a rake in his younger days.  The diary is filled with his adventures, and Canon Felix Slater wants it locked away in a bank vault until after he dies, when it will be the property of his nephew.  Tom finds Salisbury to be a more colorful place than anticipated, especially the Slater ménage, and he soon finds himself to be embroiled in a murder mystery.

This is the first in a possible new series by the author who brought us the highly readable cases of Nick Revill, Shakespearean player.  Perhaps inevitably, this initial entry in a new set of mysteries lacks the polish and depth of his well-established existing series, but there is still plenty to enjoy.  Foggy railway journeys, cheeky innkeepers, a mysterious foreign woman, a half-glimpsed fight and the excavation of a Bronze Age barrow all give this story something of the flavor of M R James's writing, but without the supernatural events.  Told in the third person, this story not only recounts the adventures of protagonist Tom, but also gives gives us a look at what the other characters are up to - something that is not always a good thing, as it tends to give the game away and destroy suspense.  Thus we have a good idea of whodunit long before we ought to, which does the book no favors.  I was left with the feeling that future books might need more in them, and fewer viewpoints if they are going to have the quality of his Nick Revill series.  It will be interesting to see how this develops.

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
July 24, 2008
1845296400 / 9781845296407
Historical Mystery / 1873 Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Reviewed 2008
© 2008