THE BECKET FACTOR
The Archbishop of Canterbury announces he is to retire. A sequence of bizarre and apparently inexplicable events follows and disturbs the usual calm of the cathedral precincts. The sudden death of one of the canons prompts uneasy suspicions on the part of a retired Intelligence officer; the unearthing of an ancient coffin re-stirs the religious fervour surrounding Thomas Becket; and growing controversy surrounds the favoured candidate for the Primacy.
Goaded by the guilt of his past in the murky world of Intelligence, Richard Harrison, now Diocesan Dilapidations Officer, is reluctantly drawn into a web of intrigue and enters a shadowy world where Church and national politics overlap. Prejudice and intolerance, both ancient and modern, alternately obscure and illuminate the past career of Bishop Maurice Campion who seems likely to succeed to the Augustine Throne. But who does Campion really serve? God -or the KGB?
This unusual, timely and utterly engrossing first novel demonstrates once again how far removed is the best of modern crime fiction from the narrow confines of the old-style' detective story'.
Church official Richard Harrison returns to
the precincts of Canterbury to find
things far from happy. The proposed economic cutbacks of the newly
appointed Archdeacon are already spreading alarm and despondency
through the diocese, while his outspoken radical views are causing passions to boil
within the normally harmonious cathedral community itself. Added to
this is the disquieting mystery surrounding the visit and subsequent
apparent suicide of someone from Harrison's shadowy past.
Compromised by his own former recommendations and trapped by an
abiding loyalty to the institution he serves, Harrison risks friendship and
reputation by helping to force a harsh rationalization programme on a deeply
traditional and conservative Church. In attempting to do so, he finds himself
increasingly enmeshed in the web of an intrigue. An intrigue whose threads lead
back to the politics of the nineteen-thirties and a famous wartime conspiracy
- the dark secrets of which, released by the recent fall of the Berlin Wall, are
reaching from the grave with skeletal hands again to spread heartbreak and
The sequestered peace of the Canterbury Cathedral community is shattered by the arrival of a poison pen letter. Reluctantly dragged from his administrative duties to investigate the allegations of gross sexual misconduct between a recently widowed person and his female assistant, senior Church official Richard Harrison accidentally stumbles upon the horrific scene of a double killing. In doing so, he is set on a lonely, tortuous path to discover the identity of the anonymous letter-writer whose malicious libels apparently precipitated the tragic deaths.
Faced with a seem motiveless malignancy, Harrison follows a maze of leads in which the proposed sale of a 200-year old cottage and the short, violent life of Christopher Marlowe, the sixteenth-century poet and playwright, appear to twine about the bizarre happenings in a country parish. he arrives finally at that midnight hour when past misdeeds have to be paid for, and when, in the words of Doctor Faustus, 'the clock will strike and the devil will come...'