The Dean it was that Died by Barbara Whitehead (book cover)

The Dean it was that Died (Constable 1991)

In the hours before the Dean died more than a few people swore they would like to kill him. A self-important, irascible man, feared and disliked by his colleagues, Dean Henry Parsifal was felled by a knob of carved stone in his own cathedral on All Souls' Day.

Although the police regard the falling masonry as an accident, one of the Canons Residentiary, George Grindal, is not so sure. Pursuing his own investigation with the help of his friend, Canon Oglethorpe, ex-Chaplain of Parkurst Prison, Grindal uncovers a veritable nest of vipers. A young employee of the cathedral attempts suicide by hanging a bullet is fired at Canon Oglethorpe during a service; and a cache of IRA arms is discovered in a consecrated place.

Barbara Whitehead's third novel in her York Cycle of Mysteries combines a riveting story of prejudice, culpability and pursuit amount the ancient and beautiful buildings of a cathedral city with a formidable knowledge of church lore and the social life of the modern clergy.