What happens when murder strikes at the heart of the nonviolent Quaker community? Here is the debut of a refreshing and beguiling mystery series with a new sleuth in the time-honored tradition of Miss Marple - yet with a brilliant deductive style that's all her own. Elizabeth Elliot is a widow of some years and considerable moral authority. Since girlhood she has drawn inner strength from her beloved Quaker worship and just recently has been elected to serve as clerk of the Quaker Meeting in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Elizabeth's worries about her ability to carry out the everyday duties of the job - leading the congregation in prayerful meditation, balancing the budget, etc. - are put aside, though, when she receives the shocking news that a prominent member of the meeting has been found murdered in his garden! The victim is John Hoffman, a wealthy businessman near retirement who is just preparing, he has announced to the entire congregation, to alter his will. Obviously many people would rather he did not leave most of his estate to charity, yet the police focus their investigation on Tim, a young homeless man who attends the meeting and whom John Hoffman occasionally hired to work in his garden. Not surprisingly, Tim is unable to supply a convincing alibi, yet Elizabeth is certain that he is innocent. She rises to the occasion, standing up to the police, who are eager to convict an indigent man, and doing some wildly inventive and daring detective work that makes surprising use of Quaker practices and philosophy. Before she finally confronts the killer, Elizabeth will sift through a myriad of red herrings and seemingly unrelated clues and secrets. For within the blessed "Quaker silence" is greed, forbidden love, and vengeful anger struggling to find a voice. Mixing timeless philosophy with contemporary concerns, Irene Allen's Quaker Silence marks the beginning of an outstanding mystery series.
October 1992 : USA Hardback