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Lord Francis Powerscourt is visited at home in London by the Bishop of Lynchester who wants his advice about the suspect for the death of an aged parishioner. Powerscourt advises that discretion rather than accusation is the best way forward, but this is just the start of his association with the diocese of Lynchester.
The death of the parishioner has left available a property in the cathedral close which traditionally the church rents out to a suitable tenant. Four worthy candidates are nominated . . . and then one of them, the retail king of the south of England, is found dead in the house, poisoned by strychnine. So once again Powerscourt is summoned by the bishop as this time there is no doubt of foul play.
But there are many suspects from which to choose - there are the other candidates who want to live in that very desirable property . . . or could it be more complex than that? Very soon Powerscourt uncovers a trail of greed, deception and death which goes straight to the heart of the cathedral itself.