The crypt at St. Tancred’s Parish is being opened to exhume the bones of the long-dead St. Tancred. Imagine Flavia de Luce’s surprise when the crypt is opened and she finds instead the dead body of the organist Crispin Collicutt.
Thus begins Flavia’s newest mystery. Mr. Collicutt was found with a gas mask on his face and a frilly handkerchief under the gas mask. His inner organs, according to the doctor, had all been burst. Mmmm. Very interesting.
Flavia also has other things on her mind. Buckshaw is up for sale, due to her father’s debts. Her sister Ophelia is marrying Dieter Schrantz, the farm worker at Culver House. Ophelia is now the new organist at St. Tancred’s with the demise of Mr. Collicutt.
The bishop apparently has withdrawn his permission to open the tomb of St. Tancred and the Chancellor, Magistrate Ridley-Smith is involved. Flavia decides to pay Magistrate Ridley-Smith a visit and find out what his involvement really is. She travels to his home of Bogmore Hall, stopping at a butcher’s shop along the way and procuring a live chicken which she names Esmerelda in the course of her visit. At Bogmore Hall, she doesn’t meet Magistrate Ridley-Smith, but she does come across his son Jocelyn who is locked in an upstairs room with music. She visits him when he lets her in and he thinks she is Harriet, her dead mother. She had tea with him and promises to return. She nearly runs into his minder Benson as she makes her escape from Bogmore Hall.
Then there is the mysterious “blood” that is dripping from the carving of St. Tancred in the church. Miss Tanty has a fit in the church when she sees it. Flavia dips her hair ribbon in the stuff to analyze it later. Adam Sowerby also tastes it to figure out what it is. He is the horticulturist and friend of Flavia’s father who is there to test any flower seeds that may be found when the crypt is opened.
Flavia also discovers a way into the church crypt from outside the church–through a grave in the church yard. Cassandra Cottlestone’s collapsed grave gives way to a passage way under the church and into the crypt. There is also another passage that leads of the passage way that Flavia does not explore. Now Flavia knows how Mr. Collicutt’s body was moved from the organ panel where he was killed to the crypt where he was found. She is getting closer to the killers.
Adam Sowerby tells Flavia about the Stone of Lucifer that was buried with St. Tancred, a diamond that was in his crozier. He read about it in a document. Flavia finds a reference to it in a paper that Mr. Collicutt wrote that is in his room and also find 600 pounds cash and an envelope from Quentin Ridley-Smith in Mr. Collicutt’s room. Apparently Mr. Collicutt was to steal the Stone and give it to Mr. Ridley-Smith, but he didn’t give it to him. Miss Tanty found out about it and got involved, Flavia believes.
Flavia goes back to the church early on Easter morning, after the crypt has been opened and the Stone has been noticed to be missing. She knows where Mr. Collicutt his the Stone of Lucifer and goes to retrieve it. It is hidden in one of the organ pipes. She finds it and swallows it so no one can get it. Mr. Ridley Smith and Benson attack her. Then Miss Tanty comes to her aid. She takes her to her home, but she too wants the Stone. She attacks Flavia with ether, the same as she did Mr. Collicutt. But Flavia strikes a match and causes an ether explosion and Miss Tanty is burned. Flavia escapes after tending to Miss Tanty’s burns.
Flavia and her family attend Easter services. Flavia explains all to Inspector Hewitt and his wife Antigone. They all go back to Buckshaw and have tea and cakes. The Colonel has an announcement. The girls believe he will say that Buckshaw has been sold. But he announces that their mother has been found!
This was another wonderful Flavia de Luce adventure. She is marvelous in her discoveries. How she figures out this mystery is just miraculous. And how she figures out how to protect the Stone of Lucifer is brilliant.
I loved this book.