A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Susan Dunlap:


ROBERT BARNARD – Blood Brotherhood. Walker & Co., US, hardcover, 1978. Previously published in the UK: Collins Crime Club, hc, 1977. US paperback reprint: Penguin, 1983, 1992 (the latter shown).

ROBERT BARNARD Blood Brotherhood

   Robert Barnard’s element is exposing the underside of the pompous and the powerful, be they royalty, clergy, academics, or pillars of the community.

   The unique thing about his books is not how witty they are (though that in itself makes them worth reading) but that each one is very different. (Indeed, Death in a Cold Climate, 1980, is not humorous; its intriguing quality is its setting in the north of Norway, where Barnard once taught English.)

   Blood Brotherhood takes the reader into the cloistered Anglican community of St. Botolph’s, where an international group of clerics (an American with an unmuted passion for fundraising; an African bishop who has occasional lurchings into un-Christian tribal customs; assorted Britons; and two Norwegians who, to the horror of the host, turn out to be women) meet to discuss the rarefied matters of the spirit.

   At a time “when the heather lay like a purple blanket over the moorlands, and a large proportion of the local population were baking uncomfortably and loathing the food on the Costa del Sol,” the clerics entertain less than holy thoughts, particularly about the more attractive of the Norwegian women.

   One of their number is stabbed to death, and the unholy problem is left for the pious group to unravel. Barnard’s characters, while created to show various peculiarities — such as the overly hip youth pastor or the television bishop — exist not as stereotypes but as individuals who have grown up into their chosen roles. Entertaining.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

Note: Maryell Cleary’s review of this book appears here earlier on this blog.