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The Gardens of the Dead
Genre: Mystery
Series: Book 2.0 in the Father Anselm Mysteries series
Ratings: ★★★★☆☆
Publisher: Viking Adult
Pub Year:
ISBN: 9780670034987
List Price: 0.00
Download: EPUB MOBI


A gripping new tale of intrigue from a "John le Carré in the making" (Daily Telegraph, London)

William Brodrick’s extraordinary new thriller, like its predecessor The Sixth Lamentation, focuses again on Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk who finds himself at the center of a mystery involving family, the long tentacles of deception and the healing power of retribution.

When Elizabeth Glendinning, Q.C., dies of heart failure while making a desperate phone call to the police, her colleagues and family are devastated and mystified. What was she doing in east London at the time of her death, and what was she trying to tell the police in her last phone call? After her funeral, her son, Nicholas, Inspector Cartwright, the officer she was trying to call, and Father Anselm, Elizabeth’s former colleague, all receive packages about a case from years earlier: Regina v. Riley. The package also includes mysterious newspaper clippings about the accidental drowning of John Bradshaw, who just happens to be the son of the principal witness in the case. Why is Elizabeth still following the case? And what does she want the three people to do with the information she has sent them?

The germ of the story lies in events that occurred many years earlier when Anselm Duffy, Q.C., had won a rather difficult case by asking a question of the key witness: the question, right in every aspect for winning the case, turns out to have been fatally, critically, the wrong one. The acquitted man wreaks havoc in a number of lives and his net finally enmeshes those who had so cleverly defended him in court. Anselm Duffy's own life is changed radically as he becomes aware of the full repercussions of his performance in court. His inner voice won't let him rest, finally nudging him to abandon the silk for the robe. It is Father Anselm, whose story is patterned on circumstances in the author's own life, who asks the riveting questions in the novel: What is justice? What is innocence? And what, ultimately, is evil? As Father Anselm’s begins to make sense of Elizabeth’s directives from her grave, as it were, he discovers the complexity of truth and its lethal power.

Psychologically complex and suspenseful, The Gardens of the Dead reveals the inner workings of the courts of England through the unfolding of a richly rewarding story, and through characters who become unforgettable in their struggles with evil and the possibility of redemption.

From Publishers Weekly

Sharply etched characters who owe a lot to the darker side of Dickens lift Brodrick's sequel to his well-received debut, The Sixth Lamentation (2003), which introduced Father Anselm, an English lawyer turned monk. Unfortunately, many of the descriptive scenes—a homeless man endlessly sharing toast and hot chocolate with a shrewd London female barrister for whom he acts as an informant, for example—start off with poignant power, but eventually become just padding. At the time of her death by heart attack, this highly principled woman, Elizabeth Glendinning, was trying to correct a miscarriage of justice that she and Father Anselm had been involved in when he was still a lawyer. A convicted sex criminal was set free who had always proclaimed his innocence and blamed the crimes on his employer, known only as "The Pieman," whose identity has never been revealed to readers—until now. Brodrick has all the right moves, but fewer slices of toast would have made for a tighter plot. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Starred Review Many novelists working in crime try to deepen readers' involvement by always upping the ante: more bodies, more gore, more misery. Brodrick, a monk-turned-barrister whose hero, Father Anselm, is a barrister-turned-monk, does the opposite with riveting results. When Elizabeth Glendinning dies suddenly, she leaves behind a tangle of mysterious directions but one overriding imperative: "Leave it to Anselm." Anselm plays out his friend and former associate's complex but flawed scheme, learning that her last acts were attempts to undo a long-ago evil and discovering even more than she'd meant him to. Though wise, Anselm is no supersleuth, rather "shy and boyish, as if he were on his way to the podium to pick up the diligence prize after all the clever children had returned to their seats." And Brodrick's England is a somber place that stands somehow out of time, lending an allegorical quality to the several journeys here. But Brodrick gains remarkable power from the life-or-death seriousness with which he treats his characters' moral travails, of the urgent value he places on something often ignored in crime fiction--their souls. With just his second novel (The 6th Lamentation, 2003), Brodrick already writes like a master. Keir Graff
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