Poisoned Pen, Mar 1 2011, $24.95
In Western Kansas, Episcopalians came together to build St. Helena Church at the point where four counties meet. Bishop The Right Reverend Ignatius P. Talesbury arrives to give the guest sermon at the special ceremony for Tammy Clements who will be confirmed today. The congregation is stunned when the Bishop attacks the flock blaming everyone for the diocese’ financial troubles. Tammy’s twin aunts react differently as psychologist Josie Albright studies the faces of the people in attendance while Carleton County Deputy Sheriff Lottie Albright would like to lock up the incarnation of Darth Vader, the odious Bishop.
The church’s temporary rector distressed Mary Farnsworth accidentally drops the chalice filled with communion wine. Stunned she runs into the back room. The Bishop handles the spill employing an odd ritual. After the services are done, Lottie finds Mary dead. Octogenarian Edna Mavery says she heard the man talk to and frighten Mary after the wine spill and the woman's fear led to a fatal heart attack. The autopsy reveals Mary was poisoned. Although she would love to prove the Bishop killed the rector, Lottie investigates the homicide that none of the bigwigs want conducted and another county sheriff with strong support wants to run the inquiry. Supporting her efforts is her husband Keith and Josie.
The latest Lottie Albright police procedural (see Deadly Descent) is a terrific whodunit with several fascinating twists starting with Mary’s past. The cast is strong with Lottie as the focus holding the strong story line together. Readers need to set aside time as this is a hard to put down murder mystery.