Waters of Salvation: A Canon Clement Mystery
Canon Daniel Clement is Rector of Champton. He has been there for eight years, arriving at the invitation of the patron and landowner, Bernard, Baron de Floures, of Champton House. Daniel's previous post was curate at a smart central London parish, where he got to know the de Floures family through his brother Theo, an up-and-coming actor and socialite. Audrey Clement, his widowed mother, lives with him at the Rectory on the estate. He has two dachshunds, Cosmo and Hilda.
The story begins with Daniel announcing from the pulpit a plan to install a lavatory in church. This is long overdue, he thinks and so does Bernard de Floures, but the announcement goes down badly with the parish. Firm opposition comes from Mrs Harper and Mrs Dollinger of the Flower Guild, who are habitual opposers of change. There is opposition too from others who do not like the the thought of matters lavatorial in church. and others who dislike having to move from the pews where they currently sit. Some are in favour and the arguments this gives rise to demonstrate the faultlines that lie deep in the community - in any community.
The Flower Festival is approaching and Mrs Harper and Mrs Dollinger use it as an opportunity to rally opposition to the proposal. They concoct a proposal to extend the flower room and build a kitchen, which would colonise the back of the church for their purposes. Daniel proposes a range of counter-measures, one which will leave the pews undisturbed. A parishioner argues that the pews are historic and should be listed and cannot be touched, but parish archivist finds a bill of sale for them from 1857: they are Victorian and can be easily disposed of. Yet before he can pass on this information he too is disposed of - stabbed in the neck with a pair of secateurs in the church - murder one.
Police are called, but the murder, which seems motiveless - a random violent act in a quiet village - makes no sense. Now it is time for Canon Daniel Clement to act too.
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