Sunday, March 18, 2012


Jane Langton’s Divine Inspiration begins with a one-year-old abandoned baby. The child is crawling up the steps of a historic Back Bay Boston church in a rainstorm.

The books ends with one of the most startling events I’ve encountered in a cozy mystery.

The story in between is excellent.

I can’t talk about the startling event. You’ll have to read the book.

The baby is the son of a talented organist who lives next door to the church. The woman’s blood-stained apartment is empty. The front door left wide open.

Alan Starr finds the child. Starr is restoring the church’s damaged pipe organ. A suspicious fire destroyed the historic organ.

Starr falls in love with Charley. He also falls in love with the memory of Charley’s mother. He refuses to believe Charley’s mother would abandon Charley. He seeks out Homer and Mary Kelly, amateur sleuths, to find out what happened to the young woman.

Little Charley holds the story together. Starr finds Charley in a foster home. He puts Charley in his stroller to take him out for walks. They visit Charley’s mother’s house. He uses pictures of his mother to teach Charley to say the word, “Mama.”

One day while Starr and Charley are at the church, Charley sees a woman coming out of his mother’s house. He says the magic word. By the time Starr knows what is happening, the woman is gone.

Charley’s fate propels the story forward.

I liked all kinds of things about Divine Inspiration. I have close friends in Boston. We often visit Boston. The author describes Boston evocatively. She even provides some line drawings.

The characters are human, often caring, sometimes dangerously evil or incompetent, and always interesting.

There was more about music and pipe organs than suited my taste, but I’m a musical illiterate. And otherwise, the story was enthralling.

If this book is a cozy, which it probably is, it is one of the best I’ve read.


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Great review and a very help reminder to me as I've had a couple of Langton books on the shelves, still unread, for the best part of a decade I think since visiting the late lamented SF Mystery bookstore way back when. Let's hope I can find them again ...

Joe Barone said...

I hope you can find the book. I found this book to be very different book. That's one thing I liked about it.

Anonymous said...

Another good review. I found the parts about the underground water fascinating. If you decide to try another Jane Langton, maybe have a look at "Natural Enemy".

Joe Barone said...

I do plan to read another one. I will look up "Natural Enemy."