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The Gardens of the Dead: A Father Anselm Mystery    by William Brodrick order for
Gardens of the Dead
by William Brodrick
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

At the end of William Brodrick's superb new Father Anselm mystery, the tenacious and complicated protagonist makes this observation about everyone in the story: 'We were all meant to get what we deserved.'

The narrative of The Gardens of the Dead - from the opening scene at something like an antiques flea market to Father Anselm's ironic and poignant observation at the end - is overflowing with profound insights into the human capacity for good and evil.

Readers join the action shortly before the death of London lawyer Elizabeth Glendinning. Immediately after her death, through a series of letters and requests, Elizabeth posthumously enlists the aid of her son Nick and her longtime friend Anselm Duffy - formerly a London lawyer but now a priest. Together - though paradoxically separately - they must follow a complicated trail of clues - involving separate but related quests - that will take them back to a time ten years earlier when Elizabeth was involved in a trial in which an obviously guilty man was exonerated when a key witness suddenly withdrew from the courtroom; then, the witness's son died (under mysterious circumstances) five years after the trial.

For reasons that neither Father Anselm nor Elizabeth's son Nick can imagine, Elizabeth - even from beyond her grave - has felt responsible for all that happened during and after that flawed trial. Now, Father Anselm is the one person who can set everything right and make sure everyone gets what they have always deserved.

A tale of revenge and justice, injury and recovery, and love and hatred, The Gardens of the Dead moves adroitly between past and present as powerful secrets are revealed and long-hidden evil is finally exposed. William Brodrick, a superb novelist, has offered up another sophisticated mystery that is dominated by exquisitely rendered characterizations, a labyrinthine plot, and top-notch story-telling. So, get yourself a copy of this literary jigsaw puzzle and - along with Father Anselm - gather together and assemble the pieces: You will be amazed at what is finally revealed. Don't miss it!

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