Mortal Spoils

By D.M. Greenwood

Mortal Spoils is a prime example of why you should never trust cover quotes praising a book. Has vigourously revived the clerical mystery, Writes like an affectionate but acid-penned angel’, shiningly different. The Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and the Observer are lying through their teeth.

  • Author: D.M. Greenwood
  • Title: Mortal Spoils
  • Pages: 213
  • Published: 1996
  • Publisher: Headline
  • ISBN: 0-7472-1583-0

As a certain Simon McLeish has remarked about another detective novel by D.M. Greenwood, Greenwood is a bit of a lazy author. Her characters never grow beyond stereotypes, her plot and situations are improbable, and some problems are completely glossed over.

In this book, it never becomes clear where the body is kept between its disappearance and its reappearance, and I guess it’s just temporarily not present in the world of the book…

D.M. Greenwood has worked (or is still working, I couldn’t find reliable biographical information on the web) as a civil servant for the C. of E., and no doubt she knows what she is talking about. No doubt the higher echelons of that church are staffed with self-centered careerists, and no doubt the real inspirational work is done by underpaid, ascetic chaplains. But there’s no doubt either that Greenwood is bitter — perhaps that’s where the ‘acid’ the Sunday Times natters about comes from.

However, the book has some nice features. Tom Logg, a young and enthusiastic man, is pleasant and his enthusiasm infectious. A pity Greenwood spoils that by exaggerating his enthusiasm by putting him down as eager to go to prison, because it would be new, and interesting and good material for a paper. A pity, too, that she doesn’t match him with Theodora (the virtuous chaplain). As far as I know Anglican chaplains can marry if they want to, and I would have liked a bit of romance to go with the pedestrian, Ruritanian plot.

Another thing I liked is the technical quality of the writing: smooth and lively. Engaging enough that I didn’t put the book down; I finished it in about three hours.