The Hanged Man, A Digby Rolf Mystery, Book 1, an e-book by Raymond M. Hall.
Digby is the son of an Anglican Vicar with a quite extensive sphere of influence in spite of his position in a small parish “tucked deep into the countryside of rural Sussex”. He supposedly was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately he engaged in quite socially unacceptable activity that dictates he move from the local areas. He is offered no parish but instead is assigned as a Prison Chaplain whose most unfortunately onerous duty includes accompanying condemned prisoners on their short journey to the hangman. His task of accompanying John Moorcroft on this last journey and an associated strange occurrence initiate a tremendous upheaval in his life. Moorcroft has been found guilty of raping and killing a young woman. He insists he is innocent but since this is a normal claim for convicted felons, he is not believed. Digby is the exception and his belief is solidified when as the last to leave the still hanging body the bible he is holding seems “to spring from his hands, the pages moving in a blur of speed as if blown by some fierce wind, but around him the air was still, there wasn’t even a slight draught. He stood transfixed as the book hit the concrete floor and flipped onto its spine. He stared down and noticed it had fallen open on a familiar page. The words leapt out at him. ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’. Digby sank to his knees and turning, looked up once more at the hanging body. ‘We have killed an innocent man!’”. He attempts to explain to the Bishop what has occurred, is harshly rebuffed, resigns in a huff and returns to the boarding house in which he has been living. The owner is Mrs. Pentley, the widow of a patrol officer who was killed in the line of duty so has a small pension which she augments by leasing rooms. He mentions his suspicions to her. She still is friendly with one of the officers still working and pays him a visit. He provides some answers but is hesitant to speak further with her because of the situation of distrust throughout the department. This, of course brings further questions with respect to a case that at best was improperly handled. In moving further, Digby becomes involved with warring factions of the underworld, a thoroughly corrupt judiciary, involvement of the Free Masons with their secret codes and edicts, an unexpected romantic interest in Mrs. Pentlry’s niece and even more unexpected aid from his quite stern and dismissive father with his strange ‘connections’. The result is a thoroughly incompetent investigator bumbling his way slowly along in a most naïve manner that places not only him but others with whom he has contact into imminent danger and even death in a most brutal manner. He does have one additional all-encompassing and no doubt faith-based guiding companion who wants to see justice done. To provide specifics of the manner in which the story progresses and its finale would be a disservice to any prospective readers.
Summary: Interesting presentation of a mystery/suspense tale different from the more usually encountered format.
4* Engagingly different presentation of unusual mystery/suspense tale.