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 former shown).

ROBERT BARNARD Blood Brotherhood

   It seems to me that mystery authors are more and more reaching for the outre to capture the interest, perhaps of publishers more than of the ordinary reader.

   A gathering of clergy at an Anglican monastery is an unlikely spot for a murder, and the people gathered there are an unlikely group of clergy: A money-hungry American evangelical; two Norwegian women of vastly different personalities; a status-hungry Anglican bishop; an impressive head of the monastery — these are some of the cast.

   Barnard does not spare the police, either, in his depiction of unpleasant people: the first police inspector assigned to the murder case is insane, quite literally. The hippie culture of the 70’s impinges on the monastery in a curious way: drugs and sex are part of this particular scene, as is the reversion of a black African bishop to his native ways.

   The book is redeemed somewhat by the Rev. Ernest Clayton, an average, normal clergyman who does not do anything heroic, just figures out the solution of the murdered brother at about the same time as the police. I’ve read much better Barnard.

– Reprinted from The Poisoned Pen, Vol. 6, No. 4, Fall 1986

      Previously reviewed on this blog —

ROBERT BARNARDA Little Local Murder (by Marv Lachman)

ROBERT BARNARD The Case of the Missing Brontė (by Steve Lewis)