Book Review: The Man Who was Death by Pat Herbert

Dave Allison is a man with a secret, several secrets, none of them pleasant.

The year is 1968. The Reverend Paltoquet takes on the handsome Dave as his gardener to tend the graveyard as well as the vicarage gardens, and very soon he has the female population in a tizzy, not least among them the vicar’s usually imperturbable housekeeper, Mrs Harper. To outward appearances, he has everything going for him, but there is a dark side to his character. He has the ability to see people’s auras, and whenever he sees a black one around a person’s head, he knows that person will die.

Four years prior to working for the vicar of St Stephen’s in the borough of Wandsworth, he was employed as gardener to Lord and Lady Mountjoy at Mountjoy Court in a small Kent village. Following the demise of the lord of the manor in suspicious circumstances and the equally suspicious death of Lady Mountjoy’s lover, Paul Brierley, Dave is forced to leave and pick up any odd jobs he can to survive.

So, with his new family, he sets up home in Tooting and is soon working in and around the area, and this is when he comes to the attention of Bernard Paltoquet who is looking to replace his old gardener who is well past retirement age.

Dave is popular everywhere he goes, especially with the women, but he is a married man now with a little boy on whom he dotes. But back into his life comes Lady Mountjoy and with her his sordid past rears its ugly head.

Dr Robbie MacTavish, Bernard’s close friend, falls for the charms of Lady Mountjoy when she appears on the scene, unaware that she is a cold-blooded killer.

Slowly the story of Dave and Lady Mountjoy unravels, culminating in both getting their just desserts.

Titles in the Reverend Paltoquet Mystery Series are:

The Bockhampton Road Murders
Haunted Christmas
The Possession of November Jones
The Witches of Wandsworth
So Long at the Fair
The Man Who Was Death
The Dark Side of the Mirror 

Amazon.UK * Amazon.com

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This is the sixth book in the Reverend Paltoquet series. I’ve read them all and enjoy them. They have a bit of a dark side and a touch of paranormal along with some quirky regular characters. The other characters in The Man Who Was Death are rather pitiful.

The regulars: Bernie (Reverend Paltoquet) can be a bit selfish, but he usually realizes that and tries to change and be more Christian-like. Robbie is a good doctor and believes himself to be a ladies’ man. My favorite recurring character is Mrs. Aitch. She seems cantankerous, but those close to her know that she’s got a big heart. I love that she speaks her mind no matter the consequences.

The other characters in The Man Who Was Death include Lord Mountjoy, his wife, his housekeeper, and his gardener. Theirs is a tragic story but it was hard for me to feel sorry the Mountjoys. They not only ruin their lives but the lives of the housekeeper and gardener as well. The gardener, Jed, is the one to pity the most. He is a good man, but death is always nearby. He loses his parents at a young age, and that’s just the beginning of his grief. What makes it worse is that he can see a black aura around someone if they’re going to die.

The ending was quite a surprise although it was the right ending for this book. I definitely recommend the Reverend Paltoquet books. They do stand alone but I enjoy them even more because I feel like I know the main characters well.

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