Friday, 24 April 1998

Jane Langton: Divine Inspiration (1993)

Edition: Penguin, 1994
Review number: 33

This is a rather unusual detective story, featuring a detective who apparently turns up in a whole series of Jane Langton books, ex-policeman Homer Kelly. The plot concerns sabotage of the organ at a church in Boston, Mass., starting with a fire and the simultaneous disappearance of an organist living in an apartment block next to the church. Even though Homer Kelly is the series character, he isn't the hero of the book; that honour goes to the organist who installs a new organ at the church to replace that destroyed in the fire.

His interest in the vanished organist and her abandoned baby lead to a wealth of complications over about a year (hence the book's structure based on the liturgical year), well handled by Langton who leaves you guessing until just before the end. The book is illustrated with pictures of Boston and excerpts from the organ chorales of Bach, which fit in with the book's structure and help develop the sense of atmosphere.

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