Charles Ashworth is a priest asked to perform a surreptitious investigation on a flamboyant clergyman, Alex Jardine, who the church fears may be conducting an affair which would cause scandal if it became public. Or at least, that's the ostensible reason for his investigation - but perhaps the real reason is that Darrow's views on divorce are a challenge to the CofE establishment.
I first read this many years ago, and was gripped by it. Almost every chapter (and the chapters are quite short) ends on some kind of cliff-hanger, and so it's quite a page-turner. Charles is by no means without his own flaws, and suffers a kind of breakdown which results in him spending time with the charismatic John Darrow, who appears to have some kind of prophetic insight. At the end of the book, there's a note saying "The next book will focus on John Darrow", and I remember I couldn't wait to get hold of the next book.
But this time it felt a bit of a let-down. It was still readable, but it seemed to take a long time to get going. Perhaps this is because I had remembered some of the more dramatic episodes from when I'd read it before, and despite the cliff-hanging chapter endings, it's a while before you get to any of the juicy bits.
So this time, after I finished it, I wasn't rushing to read the second book, "Glamorous Powers". But I must have enjoyed it, because after finishing it I started on The Rich Are Different by Howatch
OK then, but probably won't read the rest of the series this time.
Completed : 10-Nov-2010