Originally published in 1947, Death Makes a Prophet is one golden age mystery that deserves to find a new audience.
The Children of Osiris, or Cooism for short, is a church/cult based on a mishmash of Egyptian gods, astral bodies, meditation and vegetarianism. Its founder, Eustace Mildmann, is the High Prophet. One of Cooism’s highest members, Mrs. Hagge-Smith, donates substantial funds to the church including a 5,000 pound annual stipend to the High Prophet. However, she is entranced by the dynamic personality of the Prophet-in-Waiting, Peta Penpeti. So rapt that she creates an additional annual stipend of 500 pounds for him. Penpeti and Hagge-Smith plot a coup on Cooism: hoping to overthrow Mildmann if favor of Penpeti. Several church members remain loyal to Mildmann and tell him of the rebellion. Meanwhile, Terrence, Mildmann’s son, is attracted to Mrs. Hagge-Smith’s secretary, Denise, but the romance is thwarted by both his father and Mrs. Hagge-Smith.
Death Makes a Prophet is bursting with plots. It is one part Preston & Child and two parts Agatha Christie. The plot synopsis above is only from the first 10% of the book. There is a cauldron of attempted murder, mistaken identity, murder, suicide, theft, sex without benefit of marriage, blackmail and more within the storyline. It is genuinely awesome how all of these disparate puzzle pieces magically transform into a clear picture by the end of the book. Mr. Bude was a master at misdirection and it is a treat to read this book. It kept me guessing until the end. However, the book is best read on a Kindle as some of the words may be unfamiliar to modern audiences (e.g. toper, rissoles, abeyance, paucity, surfeit). Some of the phrases also take a little detective work to figure out.
“I’ll cut the cackle and come to the goose, eh?”
seems to mean I’ll get to the point. Some phrases are rather racist and one contains the n-word so sensitive readers may not enjoy this book. However, for all other mystery lovers this book is highly recommended.
Thanks to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.