*** DEBUG END ***

Dangerous Deceits, by Cherith Baldry

03 May 2019

Fiona Hook enjoys an aristocrat’s sleuthing

THE aristocratic amateur sleuth Gawaine St Clair finds it impossible to be rude to women. So, when his self-appointed honorary aunt, the overbearing Christabel, bullies him into investigating the murder of her parish priest, found bludgeoned to death on the North Downs, he has no choice.

Although Father Thomas, as he liked to be called, was a man of great integrity, recently returned for health reasons from working in Africa, there is no shortage of suspects: the woman to whom he refused communion because she was divorced; the prep-school headmaster whose livelihood he threatened; and the churchwarden who might have his hand in the cash box — not to mention the brother and sister who now have his shares in the family company. Everyone, it seems, has something to hide. And would those who dislike his incense, and meditation sessions, stoop to murder to stop the Bishop confirming him in the parish?

Jane Austen said that five or six families in a small village were the perfect material; and so it is here. Cherith Baldry has an unerring feeling for human types. Many churches have someone like Mrs Prestwick, who does the flowers and knows everything that’s going on. The writer shows with wry wit the unpleasantness and jockeying for position which can lurk beneath the surface of an apparently idyllic small community, ruthless in its punishment of anyone who steps out of line. Her central character and the setting owe an obvious debt to Dorothy Sayers, even to the clavichord-playing, though Baldry is never overly derivative, and the motive for murder is thoroughly 21st-century.

This is the second outing for St Clair and his foils: the lively advertising executive David and the local journalist Sef. Their interactions are not the least amusing feature of this highly entertaining whodunnit. Baldry knows her Church of England, and she tells a cracking story.

Fiona Hook is a writer and EFL teacher.


Dangerous Deceits
Cherith Baldry
Matador £8.99
Church Times Bookshop £8.10

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)