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Arrest the Bishop?
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Group reads > February 2020: Arrest the Bishop? SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10032 comments Mod
Welcome to our February 2020 main read - Arrest the Bishop? Arrest the Bishop? by Winifred Peck first published in 1949 and written by Winifred Peck, sister of the famous Knox brothers, aunt of Penelope Fitzgerald and daughter of the Bishop of Manchester.

The Rev. Ulder, everyone agreed, was the parish priest from hell. In addition to tales of drunkenness and embezzlement, the repellent cleric had recently added blackmail to his list of depravities. There was scandal in the district, plenty of it, and Ulder had the facts. Until, that is, a liberal helping of morphia, served to him in the Bishop's Palace, silenced the insufferable priest - for good.

Was it the Bishop himself who delivered the fatal dose? Was it Soames, the less-than-model butler? Or one of a host of other inmates and guests in the house that night, with motives of their own to put Ulder out of the way? Young Dick Marlin, ex-military intelligence and now a Church deacon, finds himself assisting Chief Constable Mack investigate murder most irreverent.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2065 comments I did like this, but found the building a bit confusing (a floorplan would have been handy) Judith the elder daughter, and the vague mother did give it a bit of humour. It seems a shame to me that Peck only wrote two mystery books, as both were well worth the read.
The fact that Dick had hunted with Mack, when Dick was a boy , exonerated Dick in Mack's eyes, was helpful to me, but highly unlikely in reality. It did enable us to see the ongoing investigation from all sides.


Susan | 10032 comments Mod
Yes, the house was a real warren, wasn't it? It was hard to imagine which room was where.

Mack was not a great character, but I liked Dick and thought the book was well written and quite funny in places.


Valerie Brown | 55 comments I agree, it would have been helpful to have a floor plan. I never did get the layout straight in my head! I did enjoy it overall though.

Mack was kind of one dimensional, perhaps because she (Peck) couldn't empathize with someone who despises the clergy.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 768 comments I haven't quite finished this but one thing does puzzle me - Judith's divorce.

Her husband refused to play the conventional gentleman (and thus allow himself to be divorced, going off to a hotel with a professional co-respondent), and is divorcing Judith for adultery with Clive - an affair which everyone apparently knew about, so he couldn't ignore it. He is the innocent party, and Judith the guilty.

The thing about the King's Proctor is that the innocent party - the petitioner - can't be caught having an affair before the decree is absolute, but that can't apply to the guilty party. I mean, it can't be the law that the errant spouse can stop the divorce going through by committing even more adultery!

It might be that this is going to be a later twist - that Ulder had nothing on Judith, and everyone of the other characters was so unworldly that they didn't realise it. But I somehow doubt that.


Carol Palmer | 56 comments I thought it was funny that Moira didn't see the hold she could have had over Ulder the whole time! All she had to do was threaten to name him as her child's father and make a stink with the church and she would have had him by the dangly parts!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 607 comments Carol wrote: "I thought it was funny that Moira didn't see the hold she could have had over Ulder the whole time! All she had to do was threaten to name him as her child's father and make a stink with the church..."

I didn't think of that, but that is a big weakness! Although Ulder was planning to leave the country.

I'm trying to decide on a rating as I didn't like the beginning or the post mortem ending, but there was a lot to like about the middle. Peck did a wonderful job wth characterisation - in particular Judith and the awful Soames.

I agree it is a shame Peck only wrote two detective novels.


Susan | 10032 comments Mod
I think Judith was a wonderful character. Peck had a good ear for dialogue. There are a lot of 'Judith's' in GA mysteries, but Peck made the character come alive.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 607 comments Susan wrote: "I think Judith was a wonderful character. Peck had a good ear for dialogue. There are a lot of 'Judith's' in GA mysteries, but Peck made the character come alive."

That phone call.... 😀

Ulder was also a wonderful character - quite repulsive!


Susan | 10032 comments Mod
Yes. Some poor little parish got stuck with him, in order to avoid a scandal, which was certainly a bit of a ploy then. In fact, the Bishop's nature of being somewhat indecisive was also interesting. You would have expected him to have been presented with different qualities, considering Peck's father was a bishop. I wonder if he read it?


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8974 comments Mod
I've finished my reread now and found that I remembered quite a bit of the plot from reading it 4 years ago, including the killer's identity.

I think it does get rather slow and wordy at times and there are a few too many characters (I kept mixing Bobs up with Dick!), but I still quite enjoyed it overall.


Leslie | 592 comments Susan wrote: "In fact, the Bishop's nature of being somewhat indecisive was also interesting. You would have expected him to have been presented with different qualities, considering Peck's father was a bishop. I wonder if he read it?..."

I wondered about that too!


Leslie | 592 comments Rosina wrote: "I haven't quite finished this but one thing does puzzle me - Judith's divorce.

Her husband refused to play the conventional gentleman (and thus allow himself to be divorced, going off to a hotel w..."


Good point! I suspect that Judith's main concern was that Ulder's interference would cause delays during which her pregnancy would become obvious. Though given how her character is portrayed, that doesn't seem like something she would care about!


Susan | 10032 comments Mod
I think she cared more than she let on. She was also probably worried that it would affect her father and her new husband. She was already seen as a little flighty, but that's different from being seen as notorious.


ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments I just finished it & I enjoyed it though the mystery was a little weak. The cast of characters kept the story moving along. It was good to see Judith go from self-absorbed to somewhat selfless as she contemplated becoming a new wife & mother.


Susan | 10032 comments Mod
I think most of agree that Judith was really the highlight of the mystery, in terms of characters. She did make a rather weak, in places, book, come alive.


message 17: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 513 comments I finished it and enjoyed it overall. My initial apprehension about the size of the cast of suspects was addressed in that the eventual number of suspects boiled down to about 5 realistically. I enjoyed Judith and Dick was a useful investigator. Mack was an interesting character as well. Mystery a bit weak, but a nice read.


Tania | 427 comments Along with others, liked reading about Judith, and I did like Dick, but also found the large cast a bit confusing at times. It did settle towards the middle of the book though. There were a couple of week points in the plot, as has been pointed out, but it was an enjoyable read.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8974 comments Mod
I kept getting Dick and Bobs mixed up with each other - they seemed very similar!


message 20: by Nick (new) - added it

Nick | 110 comments About half way through, the mention that Moira had shortened her name was enough for me to guess the truth and see everything fall into place. Thus I didn’t get bogged down with the complicated logistics of the movements of various characters throughout the Palace and in and out of the victim’s room. However, it also meant that the second half dragged, particularly the explanations at the end.


message 21: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8974 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "About half way through, the mention that Moira had shortened her name was enough for me to guess the truth and see everything fall into place. Thus I didn’t get bogged down with the complicated log..."

I think I found the same first time I read this, Nick - second time around I remembered she was the killer. I do agree the various movements get a bit complicated at times and I think I didn't follow them all that well.


message 22: by Suki (last edited May 14, 2020 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 58 comments I adore Golden Age mysteries, but I had a real problem getting my footing in this one. With some of the characters, it felt like reading a Russian novel where each character has several names and titles and is referred to by the various names at various times. I kept getting knocked out of the story in the first third of the book because I had to keep flipping back to the beginning to sort out the characters. I also felt bogged down in the beginning with all the church details. I really started to enjoy the book at the halfway point and it was going along great until it became too glaringly obvious that (view spoiler) I agree with other comments on this thread that a map of the house and grounds would have been very helpful. I would have also appreciated a list of characters in the beginning of the book. I'm still going to pick up a copy of The Warrielaw Jewel and see how it compares to this one.


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