[PW] Stumper: English church mystery with (secretly) failing roof

Jesse Lewis jlewis at bburglibrary.net
Wed Dec 9 11:02:52 PST 2015

Pardon cross-postings...this is proving to be a toughie...

I have a stumper from a patron that I haven't come with much for...an English village mystery with a subplot that the roof of the village church was slowly, unknown to anyone, starting to fail and was going to crash.  Just as the mystery was solved, again unknown to anyone, one ancient beam wedged into another, and the roof was going to last.

When I asked if she remembered any other information, she said: "I figure I may have read it about 30 - 35  some years ago.  It was a time when a friend and I were ripping through mystery stories - I also remember one by Reginald Hill called "Deadheads" (1983),  another by Anthony Oliver called "The Pew Group"  (1980). It took place in an English village, and it seems to me that it starts with or involves finding a person who was hanged (suicide? or murder?) from a pole or something from the roof of the church.  The church building/roof seemed to be a central figure in the plot, and I think the vicar was, too.  I don't remember any of the standard cops (Dalziel/Pascoe, etc.), although it could have been in a detective series. What I have always remembered is the secret subplot about the church roof (maybe it was a Norman church?) - disaster about to strike and then a serendipitous settling saving the day."

Any thoughts?  In searching (Novelist, Google, Stop You're Killing Me), the roof subplot keeps leading me to "Ten Lords A-Leaping" (Benison) but I don't think that's it since the roof is known to be failing in that one, and the patron's stumper has a roof failing without anyone realizing.

Jesse Lewis

Brownsburg Public Library

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