The Clerical Detective by Ray Targett
The Clerical Detective is Ray’s Entry in the ‘write an outline for a novel’ competition, March 2016, organised by Lanzarote Creative Writing Group and judged by author Harry Dunn
Reverend Angus McMillan is an Anglican priest, a native of Scotland, 35 years of age, single, not in a relationship, gay and not yet ready to come out. He graduated from the Birmingham University, Department of Theology and Religion with a 2:1 much to the delight of his church going parents, dour people who talked him out of his other career choice, the Metropolitan Police service. His main leisure time pursuit was reading paperback novels of a crime genre, in particular, tales of murderous intrigue, imagining himself as some kind of super sleuth, who would upstage the local police at every opportunity resulting in an arrest of a suspect. Not reflective possibly of a typical Church of England congregation’s idea of how a man of the cloth would spend his free time when not ministering to the community, but his choice.
Middle Netherfield was his second and current parish, a rural area in the West Country consisting of about 4000 parishioners, mainly drawn from an agricultural background. He had been resident in his post for three months now, preaching his Sunday sermons to a congregation of 150 or so regular worshippers. A complete contrast to his first parish, an inner city post in Manchester, he struggled to muster an attendance of more than 50 on the sabbath. His only other visitors were of the nocturnal variety when they helped themselves to lead off the church roof. ‘Reverend McMillan, the court would like to congratulate you, tracking down the miscreants who stole the church roof lead’ the judge told him as he gave the two lead thieves 18 months apiece,’ however maybe in the future you will confine your undeniably fine detective skills to giving your information to the police and not personally making an arrest, thank you.’ Maybe not the arrest of the century mused the Reverend, but a result for the clergy detective he considered.
Threats of retribution from friends and family of the now imprisoned parishioners resulted in a very swift posting to the relative calm of Middle Netherfield for the Reverend McMillan. He settled in quickly earning the respect of the community for his efforts, bingo evenings, bring and buy sales and other activities of a similar nature. Very little to inspire the Walter Mitty type in a cassock, on the crime front, but you never know he always lived in hope.
After six months or so he was walking in Darkwood Forest one Saturday, attempting to come up with a subject for Sunday’s sermon to the faithful when his attention was distracted by a pair of human feet protruding from the heather. A closer examination revealed the body of a young female, lying on her back, naked except for a ligature tied around her neck, her upper torso displaying what appeared to be a number of puncture wounds.
On the arrival of Detective Inspector Makepeace Reverend McMmillan suggested to him, ‘Witchcraft, black magic, call it what you will, there’s something ritualistic here. I would stake my reputation on it.’ The police officer told him it would be best if he restricted himself to his ecclesiastical duties and let the local constabulary investigate the young girl’s death’.
After 12 months of non-progress by the police, the Reverend considers Makepeace to be of a similar ilk to Inspector Lestrade of the Sherlock Holmes stories and begins his own lines of inquiry as to the death of his young parishioner. His adventures begin with his discovery of a warlock living in the parish, and of devil worship practiced by followers of Beelzebub who masquerade as pillars of the community, and end in a mighty struggle for survival with the forces of evil.
Copyright © Ray Targett February
Category:members’ work. Tags: creative writing, Openings