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The Black Seraphim

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  55 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
James Scotland, a young pathologist, has come to Melchester on a much-needed vacation. But amid the cathedral town's quiet medieval atmosphere, he finds a hornet's nest of church politics, town and country rivalries. . . and murder. When one of the community's most influential figures dies suddenly (and very publicly), Scotland uncovers some curious alliances among church, ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 5th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1984)
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Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
THE BLACK SERAPHIM. (1984). Michael Gilbert. ****.
One of my favorite authors, Michael Gilbert has here woven a mystery tale around the goings-on among the cathedral community in a southern English town. James Scotland is in this small town in an attempt to treat his job burn-out. His section chief in London ordered that he take this rest cure for a month or so to get out from under his heavy work load and cure him of his battle fatigue. He becomes involved with the society that exists around the
Young pathologist James Scotland is advised to take a long vacation after collapsing in front of a lecture hall full of medical students. He chooses to return to Melchester Close, a Cathedral community where he spent an enjoyable term as a tutor. There he is welcomed by old friends, and attracted to the Dean's lovely daughter; but he quickly finds himself witness to the disturbing undercurrents among the Chapter's new leaders. The Archdeacon is intent on financial stability above all, while the ...more
John Frankham
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-detective
I see that Michael Gilbert wrote many, many detective novels of different types, with no regular series or protagonists. Widely admired by other authors, and critics and devotees, it seem that his versatility stopped his becoming as well known as he deserved.

This was my first by him, a cathedral close whodunnit from the early 1980s, in which a young pathologist returns to Melchester Close and is an actor in the disputes and back-biting between factions, which leads to murder and death.

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Lukasz Pruski
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
About 40-45 years ago I used to read a lot of British mystery classics. I found them well written albeit not particularly interesting, with notable exceptions, such as, for example, Anthony Berkeley's "Trial and Error", Peter Dickinson's "A Pride of Heroes" or Josephine Tey's "Brat Farrar". I have been curious how my literary tastes changed in almost half a century.

Michael Gilbert is mainly famous for his "Smallbone Deceased", but I chose "The Black Seraphim" to begin the rediscovery of the "cla
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
James Scotland, a young pathologist, has been overworking himself and goes to visit a friend in a quiet cathedral town. But the town is in the middle of a heated battle within the cathedral and against the town as well. The dean and the archdeacon are the two opposing forces, and when the archdeacon becomes ill at a large luncheon, not too many folks are sad to learn of his death. But Scotland is not content to ascribe the death to natural causes. It must have been murder; and it will take his s ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-england
Doctor James Scotland, a young pathologist, needs a month's rest, and picks the cathedral city of Melchester, where he has friends. He's soon aware of the conflict among the Dean of the cathedral, the archdeacon, and some of the local business interests, which want to buy some cathedral land for industrial expansion and housing. The dean is an uncomfortable character, but James feels differently about the dean's daughter Amanda. Charming characters and situation.
Mary Kay
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an elegant, well-written, classically British mystery. Set in and around a Cathedral close, and populated with highly individual characters, it is a fine read that holds the reader's interest. It first appeared in 1984 but remains rewarding. I'll be seeking out more books by this author.
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
A classic English mystery set in a Cathedral Close
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-myst
Great atmospherics, well-done plot.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I adore cathedral-close mysteries, and this is a fine one. Harsher than Close Quarters, Mr. Gilbert's other cathedral murder story, but still very funny at times and well worth reading.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Born in Lincolnshire in 1912, Michael Francis Gilbert was educated in Sussex before entering the University of London where he gained an LLB with honours in 1937. Gilbert was a founding member of the British Crime Writers Association, and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America - an
More about Michael Gilbert...