It’s a Mystery: The Judgement of Strangers, by Andrew Taylor

5.0 out of 5 stars Desires and decisions

Readers of The Four Last Things, the first book in Andrew Taylor’s Roth Trilogy, know how Rosemary Byfield turned out, but to know why, it’s necessary to delve into the prequel, The Judgement of Strangers. The Reverend David Byfield is a bit player in TFLT, but in Strangers, he takes center stage. Byfield is a priest who’s skating on thin ice. He’s been celibate for ten years, since his wife died, but by now he’s almost desperate for sex. His judgement is badly impaired by his desires, and Rosemary, his teenaged daughter, is badly in need of a level of attention and guidance that her father is not prepared to provide. David has retreated to a country parish after committing an undisclosed trangression while teaching in London. Not all of his current parishioners are, shall we say, in their right minds, and matters slowly but surely spin out of control.
Author Taylor is a master at character development, his plots evolving from the strengths and weaknesses of his protagonists. His characters are people we’ve all met before, incorporating facets of our own personalities, making it easy to empathize with their choices and decisions. Readers who enjoy getting lost simple yet enthralling plots are sure to enjoy this trilogy. The books are written as stand alone novels, but I recommend taking them in order, which, in this case, is backwards.

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