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The 6th Lamentation [Livre audio] [Anglais] [CD]

William Brodrick , Graeme Malcolm


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CHAPTER ONE

"Sanctuary."

"My bottom!"

"Honestly."

The Prior, Father Andrew, was fond of diluting harsher well-known expressions for monastic use, but the sentiment remained largely the same. He was an unconverted Glaswegian tamed by excessive education, but shades of the street fighter were apt to break out when grappling with the more unusual community problems.

"It was abolished ages ago. He can't be serious."

"Well, he is," said Anselm.

"When did he come out with that one?"

"This morning, when Wilf asked him to leave."

The Prior scowled. "I suppose he declined to oblige?"

"Yes. And he told Wilf there's nowhere he can go."

The two monks were sitting on a wooden bench on the south transept lawn of the Old Abbey ruin. It was Anselm's favourite spot at Larkwood. Facing them, on the South Walk cloister wall, were the remnants of the night stairs from the now vanished dorter. He liked to sit here and muse upon his thirteenth-century ancestors, cowled and silent, making their way down for the night hours. The lawn, eaten by moss, spread away, undulating towards the enclosure fencing and, beyond that, to the bluebell path which led to the convent. It was a sharp morning. The Prior had just come back from a trip to London, having managed to miss the main item on all news bulletins. He'd returned home to find a gaggle of reporters and television crews camped on his doorstep.

"Give it to me again, in order," said the Prior. He always insisted upon accurate chronologies.

"The story broke in a local newspaper of all places. By the time the nationals had got to his home he was here, claiming the protection of the Church."

"What did Wilf say?"

"Words to the effect that the police wouldn't pay any heed to Clement III."

"Who was Clement III?"

"The Pope who granted the Order the right of sanctuary."

"Trust Wilf to know that." Disconcerted, he added, "How did you know?"

"I had to ask as well."

"That's all right then." He returned to his mental listing. "Go on, then what?"

"Wilf rang the police. The first I knew about anything was when the media were at the gates. I had a few words with them, batting back daft questions."

Father Andrew examined his nails, flicking his thumb upon each finger. "But why claim sanctuary? Where did he get the idea from?"

Anselm shifted uncomfortably. He would answer that question at the right moment, not now. It was one of the first lessons Anselm had learnt after he'd placed himself subject to Holy Obedience: there's a time and a place for honesty, and it is the privilege of the servant to choose the moment of abasement with his master.

The Prior stood and paced the ground, his arms concealed beneath his scapular. He said, "We are on the two horns of one dilemma."

"Indeed."

They looked at each other, silently acknowledging the delicacy of the situation. The Prior spoke for them both:

"If he goes, there'll be international coverage of an old man protesting his innocence being handed over to the police; if he stays, we'll be damned for supporting a Nazi. Either way, to lapse into the vernacular, we're shafted."

"Succinctly put."

The Prior leaned on a sill beneath an open arcade in the south transept wall, reflectively brushing loose lichen with the back of his hand. Anselm joined him.

"Father, I think one horn is shorter than the other and more comfortably straddled."

"Go on."

"The sooner he leaves the better. Otherwise we risk protracted public fascination with why he came here in the first place."

By a tilt of the head the Prior drew Anselm away, leading him towards the stile gate and the bluebell path. "I'm going to find out what the sisters think. They had a Chapter this morning."

As they walked through the grass, wet with dew, Anselm pursued his point. "If he's forced to go now, any uproar will be short-lived. And there is an explanation we can give in the future if we get hammered for throwing an innocent man onto the street."

"Which is?"

"This is a monastery, not a remand home for the elderly." Anselm was pleased with the phrase. It was pithy and rounded: a good sound bite...prepared earlier.

The Prior nodded, mildly unimpressed. Anselm persevered, eyeing the Prior as he'd often eyed judges in another life when trying to read their minds.

"The alternative is the other, longer horn. If he moves in, and that's what it will amount to, we're in trouble. There could be a trial." Anselm paused. "Nothing we say will convince any victims that we're not on his side."

They reached the stile and the Prior climbed over onto the path, gathering his black habit under one arm, the white scapular thrown over one shoulder. Anselm sensed him drifting away, chasing private thoughts. "We should find out more tomorrow night. Detective Superintendent Milby's coming at six. I'd like you and Wilf to be there. Then we'll have a Special Chapter. Let everyone know, will you?"

"Yes, of course."

Anselm watched Father Prior disappear along the path, across a haze of blue and purple, his habit swaying in the breeze, his head bowed.

Anselm had met Detective Superintendent Milby several times in the past. In those days Milby had been a foot soldier with the drugs squad. He had long hair and dressed in jeans, but still managed to look like a policeman. Anselm had been a hack at the London Bar and their meetings had been limited to the pro-forma cross-examination about stitching up and excessive violence. Like all policemen familiar with the courts, Milby had taken it in his stride. That was well over ten years ago, and they'd both moved on since then.

Leaning against the stile gate, Anselm could almost smell the heavy scent of floor wax from his old chambers, and hear again the raucous laughter of competing voices in the coffee room. He smiled to himself, winsomely.

When Anselm left the Bar it caused a minor sensation, not least because it was such a wonderful Robing Room yarn. Since it was endemic to the profession to treat such things with private gravity and public levity, Anselm only heard the lowered voices of shared empathy: "Tell me, old son, is it true? You're off to a monastery? I can say this to you, but we've all got secret longings. The job's not everything..."

Anselm had knocked up ten years' call but, unknown to his colleagues, had never fully settled into harness. There was a restlessness that started to grow shortly after he became a tenant. Imperceptibly, he began to feel out of place, as if in a foreign land. There was another language, rarely spoken, and he wanted to learn it. Determined attempts to live a "normal" life as a professional man floundered at regular but unpredictable intervals. He could be waiting for a taxi or heading off to court, doing anything ordinary, and he would suddenly feel curiously alienated from his surroundings. It was a sort of homesickness, usually mild, and occasionally acute. He later called these attacks by stealth "promptings." All Anselm knew at the time was that they were vaguely religious in origin. He responded by purchasing various translations of the Bible and books on prayer, as if the answer to the puzzle lay somewhere between the pages. On one occasion he left a bookshop having ordered a thirty-eight-volume edition of the Early Church Fathers. They remained as they came, in three cardboard boxes strapped with tape and stacked in the corner of his living room, and used as an inelegant resting place for coffee-cups and take-away detritus. Anselm would then recover, and continue his life at the Bar until ambushed by another God-ward impulse. It was a sort of guerrilla war for which he was always unprepared and ill-equipped. And all the while his book collection became larger, more comprehensive, and unread. Eventually he stopped buying books. He realised one day whilst looking through a wide-angle lens that he wanted to become a monk.

It was a slightly odd experience. On leaving the Court of Appeal one late November afternoon, he was stopped in his tracks by a Chinese tourist who never ceased to smile. Several gesticulations later Anselm stood beneath the portal arch of the Royal Courts of Justice looking into the camera of a total stranger.

Suddenly he felt the urge to put the record straight, to say, "Look, you're mistaken. I'm not who or what you think I am; I'm a fraud." This happy man from a far away place had pushed an internal door ajar and Anselm knew at once what was on the other side. He set off down the steps with incomprehensible protestations ringing in his ears-from himself...and from the tourist who'd inadvertently nudged him away from the Bar. Taking the bus to Victoria, Anselm walked past the bookshop and into Westminster Cathedral, where he sat down beneath the dark interlocking bricks of the nave, and prayed. It was to be the only moment of near certainty in Anselm's subsequent religious life. The jostling between doubt and perseverance was to come later. But at that time he understood, at last, what the underlying problem had been. It had been Larkwood Priory all along.

 

"Rich with medieval and biblical allusion, The 6th Lamentation is an intricate mystery of both the mind and soul.... [Brodrick] has written an engrossing novel in which appearances are disastrously deceptive and the sins of the father painfully come to bear on the sons (and daughters)." —USA Today

   

CHAPTER ONE

"Sanctuary."

"My bottom!"

"Honestly."

The Prior, Father Andrew, was fond of diluting harsher well-known expressions for monastic use, but the sentiment remained largely the same. He was an unconverted Glaswegian tamed by excessive education, but shades of the street fighter were apt to break out when grappling with the more unusual community problems.

"It was abolished ages ago. He can't be serious."

"Well, he is," said Anselm.

"When did he come out with that one?"

"This morning, when Wilf asked him to leave."

The Prior scowled. "I suppose he declined to oblige?"

"Yes. And he told Wilf there's nowhere he can go."

The two monks were sitting on a wooden bench on the south transept lawn of the Old Abbey ruin. It was Anselm's favourite spot at Larkwood. Facing them, on the South Walk cloister wall, were the remnants of the night stairs from the now vanished dorter. He liked to sit here and muse upon his thirteenth-century ancestors, cowled and silent, making their way down for the night hours. The lawn, eaten by moss, spread away, undulating towards the enclosure fencing and, beyond that, to the bluebell path which led to the convent. It was a sharp morning. The Prior had just come back from a trip to London, having managed to miss the main item on all news bulletins. He'd returned home to find a gaggle of reporters and television crews camped on his doorstep.

"Give it to me again, in order," said the Prior. He always insisted upon accurate chronologies.

"The story broke in a local newspaper of all places. By the time the nationals had got to his home he was here, claiming the protection of the Church."

"What did Wilf say?"

"Words to the effect that the police wouldn't pay any heed to Clement III."

"Who was Clement III?"

"The Pope who granted the Order the right of sanctuary."

"Trust Wilf to know that." Disconcerted, he added, "How did you know?"

"I had to ask as well."

"That's all right then." He returned to his mental listing. "Go on, then what?"

"Wilf rang the police. The first I knew about anything was when the media were at the gates. I had a few words with them, batting back daft questions."

Father Andrew examined his nails, flicking his thumb upon each finger. "But why claim sanctuary? Where did he get the idea from?"

Anselm shifted uncomfortably. He would answer that question at the right moment, not now. It was one of the first lessons Anselm had learnt after he'd placed himself subject to Holy Obedience: there's a time and a place for honesty, and it is the privilege of the servant to choose the moment of abasement with his master.

The Prior stood and paced the ground, his arms concealed beneath his scapular. He said, "We are on the two horns of one dilemma."

"Indeed."

They looked at each other, silently acknowledging the delicacy of the situation. The Prior spoke for them both:

"If he goes, there'll be international coverage of an old man protesting his innocence being handed over to the police; if he stays, we'll be damned for supporting a Nazi. Either way, to lapse into the vernacular, we're shafted."

"Succinctly put."

The Prior leaned on a sill beneath an open arcade in the south transept wall, reflectively brushing loose lichen with the back of his hand. Anselm joined him.

"Father, I think one horn is shorter than the other and more comfortably straddled."

"Go on."

"The sooner he leaves the better. Otherwise we risk protracted public fascination with why he came here in the first place."

By a tilt of the head the Prior drew Anselm away, leading him towards the stile gate and the bluebell path. "I'm going to find out what the sisters think. They had a Chapter this morning."

As they walked through the grass, wet with dew, Anselm pursued his point. "If he's forced to go now, any uproar will be short-lived. And there is an explanation we can give in the future if we get hammered for throwing an innocent man onto the street."

"Which is?"

"This is a monastery, not a remand home for the elderly." Anselm was pleased with the phrase. It was pithy and rounded: a good sound bite...prepared earlier.

The Prior nodded, mildly unimpressed. Anselm persevered, eyeing the Prior as he'd often eyed judges in another life when trying to read their minds.

"The alternative is the other, longer horn. If he moves in, and that's what it will amount to, we're in trouble. There could be a trial." Anselm paused. "Nothing we say will convince any victims that we're not on his side."

They reached the stile and the Prior climbed over onto the path, gathering his black habit under one arm, the white scapular thrown over one shoulder. Anselm sensed him drifting away, chasing private thoughts. "We should find out more tomorrow night. Detective Superintendent Milby's coming at six. I'd like you and Wilf to be there. Then we'll have a Special Chapter. Let everyone know, will you?"

"Yes, of course."

Anselm watched Father Prior disappear along the path, across a haze of blue and purple, his habit swaying in the breeze, his head bowed.

Anselm had met Detective Superintendent Milby several times in the past. In those days Milby had been a foot soldier with the drugs squad. He had long hair and dressed in jeans, but still managed to look like a policeman. Anselm had been a hack at the London Bar and their meetings had been limited to the pro-forma cross-examination about stitching up and excessive violence. Like all policemen familiar with the courts, Milby had taken it in his stride. That was well over ten years ago, and they'd both moved on since then.

Leaning against the stile gate, Anselm could almost smell the heavy scent of floor wax from his old chambers, and hear again the raucous laughter of competing voices in the coffee room. He smiled to himself, winsomely.

When Anselm left the Bar it caused a minor sensation, not least because it was such a wonderful Robing Room yarn. Since it was endemic to the profession to treat such things with private gravity and public levity, Anselm only heard the lowered voices of shared empathy: "Tell me, old son, is it true? You're off to a monastery? I can say this to you, but we've all got secret longings. The job's not everything..."

Anselm had knocked up ten years' call but, unknown to his colleagues, had never fully settled into harness. There was a restlessness that started to grow shortly after he became a tenant. Imperceptibly, he began to feel out of place, as if in a foreign land. There was another language, rarely spoken, and he wanted to learn it. Determined attempts to live a "normal" life as a professional man floundered at regular but unpredictable intervals. He could be waiting for a taxi or heading off to court, doing anything ordinary, and he would suddenly feel curiously alienated from his surroundings. It was a sort of homesickness, usually mild, and occasionally acute. He later called these attacks by stealth "promptings." All Anselm knew at the time was that they were vaguely religious in origin. He responded by purchasing various translations of the Bible and books on prayer, as if the answer to the puzzle lay somewhere between the pages. On one occasion he left a bookshop having ordered a thirty-eight-volume edition of the Early Church Fathers. They remained as they came, in three cardboard boxes strapped with tape and stacked in the corner of his living room, and used as an inelegant resting place for coffee-cups and take-away detritus. Anselm would then recover, and continue his life at the Bar until ambushed by another God-ward impulse. It was a sort of guerrilla war for which he was always unprepared and ill-equipped. And all the while his book collection became larger, more comprehensive, and unread. Eventually he stopped buying books. He realised one day whilst looking through a wide-angle lens that he wanted to become a monk.

It was a slightly odd experience. On leaving the Court of Appeal one late November afternoon, he was stopped in his tracks by a Chinese tourist who never ceased to smile. Several gesticulations later Anselm stood beneath the portal arch of the Royal Courts of Justice looking into the camera of a total stranger.

Suddenly he felt the urge to put the record straight, to say, "Look, you're mistaken. I'm not who or what you think I am; I'm a fraud." This happy man from a far away place had pushed an internal door ajar and Anselm knew at once what was on the other side. He set off down the steps with incomprehensible protestations ringing in his ears-from himself...and from the tourist who'd inadvertently nudged him away from the Bar. Taking the bus to Victoria, Anselm walked past the bookshop and into Westminster Cathedral, where he sat down beneath the dark interlocking bricks of the nave, and prayed. It was to be the only moment of near certainty in Anselm's subsequent religious life. The jostling between doubt and perseverance was to come later. But at that time he understood, at last, what the underlying problem had been. It had been Larkwood Priory all along.

 

"Rich with medieval and biblical allusion, The 6th Lamentation is an intricate mystery of both the mind and soul.... [Brodrick] has written an engrossing novel in which appearances are disastrously deceptive and the sins of the father painfully come to bear on the sons (and daughters)." —USA Today

           

Larkwood Priory, England: Father Anselm is stopped by an old man. What, he is asked, should a man do when the world has turned against him? Anselm's response: claim sanctuary. But the answer sets off more trouble than he ever could have imagined when the man returns, demanding the protection of the Church. He is Eduard Schwermann, a suspected Nazi war criminal.

Agnes Aubret has unburdened a secret to her granddaughter Lucy. Fifty years earlier, Agnes was in occupied Paris, risking her life to smuggle Jewish children to safety—until her group was exposed by an SS officer: Eduard Schwermann.

Not only has the Church granted Schwermann sanctuary before; in 1944 it helped him escape from France to begin a new life in Britain. As Anselm attempts to find out why and as Lucy delves deeper into her grandmother's past, their investigations dovetail to form a remarkable story.
 
William Brodrick makes a dazzling debut in this literary thriller where two seemingly unconnected lives gradually, shockingly converge. Brodrick, himself a former Augustinian friar, is a master of precision plotting, morally complex characterization, and crisp historical re-creation. In Father Anselm, Brodrick has crafted a unique and compelling hero. Taut and completely compelling, The 6th Lamentation promises to be the literary thriller discovery of the season.

   

CHAPTER ONE

"Sanctuary."

"My bottom!"

"Honestly."

The Prior, Father Andrew, was fond of diluting harsher well-known expressions for monastic use, but the sentiment remained largely the same. He was an unconverted Glaswegian tamed by excessive education, but shades of the street fighter were apt to break out when grappling with the more unusual community problems.

"It was abolished ages ago. He can't be serious."

"Well, he is," said Anselm.

"When did he come out with that one?"

"This morning, when Wilf asked him to leave."

The Prior scowled. "I suppose he declined to oblige?"

"Yes. And he told Wilf there's nowhere he can go."

The two monks were sitting on a wooden bench on the south transept lawn of the Old Abbey ruin. It was Anselm's favourite spot at Larkwood. Facing them, on the South Walk cloister wall, were the remnants of the night stairs from the now vanished dorter. He liked to sit here and muse upon his thirteenth-century ancestors, cowled and silent, making their way down for the night hours. The lawn, eaten by moss, spread away, undulating towards the enclosure fencing and, beyond that, to the bluebell path which led to the convent. It was a sharp morning. The Prior had just come back from a trip to London, having managed to miss the main item on all news bulletins. He'd returned home to find a gaggle of reporters and television crews camped on his doorstep.

"Give it to me again, in order," said the Prior. He always insisted upon accurate chronologies.

"The story broke in a local newspaper of all places. By the time the nationals had got to his home he was here, claiming the protection of the Church."

"What did Wilf say?"

"Words to the effect that the police wouldn't pay any heed to Clement III."

"Who was Clement III?"

"The Pope who granted the Order the right of sanctuary."

"Trust Wilf to know that." Disconcerted, he added, "How did you know?"

"I had to ask as well."

"That's all right then." He returned to his mental listing. "Go on, then what?"

"Wilf rang the police. The first I knew about anything was when the media were at the gates. I had a few words with them, batting back daft questions."

Father Andrew examined his nails, flicking his thumb upon each finger. "But why claim sanctuary? Where did he get the idea from?"

Anselm shifted uncomfortably. He would answer that question at the right moment, not now. It was one of the first lessons Anselm had learnt after he'd placed himself subject to Holy Obedience: there's a time and a place for honesty, and it is the privilege of the servant to choose the moment of abasement with his master.

The Prior stood and paced the ground, his arms concealed beneath his scapular. He said, "We are on the two horns of one dilemma."

"Indeed."

They looked at each other, silently acknowledging the delicacy of the situation. The Prior spoke for them both:

"If he goes, there'll be international coverage of an old man protesting his innocence being handed over to the police; if he stays, we'll be damned for supporting a Nazi. Either way, to lapse into the vernacular, we're shafted."

"Succinctly put."

The Prior leaned on a sill beneath an open arcade in the south transept wall, reflectively brushing loose lichen with the back of his hand. Anselm joined him.

"Father, I think one horn is shorter than the other and more comfortably straddled."

"Go on."

"The sooner he leaves the better. Otherwise we risk protracted public fascination with why he came here in the first place."

By a tilt of the head the Prior drew Anselm away, leading him towards the stile gate and the bluebell path. "I'm going to find out what the sisters think. They had a Chapter this morning."

As they walked through the grass, wet with dew, Anselm pursued his point. "If he's forced to go now, any uproar will be short-lived. And there is an explanation we can give in the future if we get hammered for throwing an innocent man onto the street."

"Which is?"

"This is a monastery, not a remand home for the elderly." Anselm was pleased with the phrase. It was pithy and rounded: a good sound bite...prepared earlier.

The Prior nodded, mildly unimpressed. Anselm persevered, eyeing the Prior as he'd often eyed judges in another life when trying to read their minds.

"The alternative is the other, longer horn. If he moves in, and that's what it will amount to, we're in trouble. There could be a trial." Anselm paused. "Nothing we say will convince any victims that we're not on his side."

They reached the stile and the Prior climbed over onto the path, gathering his black habit under one arm, the white scapular thrown over one shoulder. Anselm sensed him drifting away, chasing private thoughts. "We should find out more tomorrow night. Detective Superintendent Milby's coming at six. I'd like you and Wilf to be there. Then we'll have a Special Chapter. Let everyone know, will you?"

"Yes, of course."

Anselm watched Father Prior disappear along the path, across a haze of blue and purple, his habit swaying in the breeze, his head bowed.

Anselm had met Detective Superintendent Milby several times in the past. In those days Milby had been a foot soldier with the drugs squad. He had long hair and dressed in jeans, but still managed to look like a policeman. Anselm had been a hack at the London Bar and their meetings had been limited to the pro-forma cross-examination about stitching up and excessive violence. Like all policemen familiar with the courts, Milby had taken it in his stride. That was well over ten years ago, and they'd both moved on since then.

Leaning against the stile gate, Anselm could almost smell the heavy scent of floor wax from his old chambers, and hear again the raucous laughter of competing voices in the coffee room. He smiled to himself, winsomely.

When Anselm left the Bar it caused a minor sensation, not least because it was such a wonderful Robing Room yarn. Since it was endemic to the profession to treat such things with private gravity and public levity, Anselm only heard the lowered voices of shared empathy: "Tell me, old son, is it true? You're off to a monastery? I can say this to you, but we've all got secret longings. The job's not everything..."

Anselm had knocked up ten years' call but, unknown to his colleagues, had never fully settled into harness. There was a restlessness that started to grow shortly after he became a tenant. Imperceptibly, he began to feel out of place, as if in a foreign land. There was another language, rarely spoken, and he wanted to learn it. Determined attempts to live a "normal" life as a professional man floundered at regular but unpredictable intervals. He could be waiting for a taxi or heading off to court, doing anything ordinary, and he would suddenly feel curiously alienated from his surroundings. It was a sort of homesickness, usually mild, and occasionally acute. He later called these attacks by stealth "promptings." All Anselm knew at the time was that they were vaguely religious in origin. He responded by purchasing various translations of the Bible and books on prayer, as if the answer to the puzzle lay somewhere between the pages. On one occasion he left a bookshop having ordered a thirty-eight-volume edition of the Early Church Fathers. They remained as they came, in three cardboard boxes strapped with tape and stacked in the corner of his living room, and used as an inelegant resting place for coffee-cups and take-away detritus. Anselm would then recover, and continue his life at the Bar until ambushed by another God-ward impulse. It was a sort of guerrilla war for which he was always unprepared and ill-equipped. And all the while his book collection became larger, more comprehensive, and unread. Eventually he stopped buying books. He realised one day whilst looking through a wide-angle lens that he wanted to become a monk.

It was a slightly odd experience. On leaving the Court of Appeal one late November afternoon, he was stopped in his tracks by a Chinese tourist who never ceased to smile. Several gesticulations later Anselm stood beneath the portal arch of the Royal Courts of Justice looking into the camera of a total stranger.

Suddenly he felt the urge to put the record straight, to say, "Look, you're mistaken. I'm not who or what you think I am; I'm a fraud." This happy man from a far away place had pushed an internal door ajar and Anselm knew at once what was on the other side. He set off down the steps with incomprehensible protestations ringing in his ears-from himself...and from the tourist who'd inadvertently nudged him away from the Bar. Taking the bus to Victoria, Anselm walked past the bookshop and into Westminster Cathedral, where he sat down beneath the dark interlocking bricks of the nave, and prayed. It was to be the only moment of near certainty in Anselm's subsequent religious life. The jostling between doubt and perseverance was to come later. But at that time he understood, at last, what the underlying problem had been. It had been Larkwood Priory all along.

 

"Rich with medieval and biblical allusion, The 6th Lamentation is an intricate mystery of both the mind and soul.... [Brodrick] has written an engrossing novel in which appearances are disastrously deceptive and the sins of the father painfully come to bear on the sons (and daughters)." —USA Today

           

Larkwood Priory, England: Father Anselm is stopped by an old man. What, he is asked, should a man do when the world has turned against him? Anselm's response: claim sanctuary. But the answer sets off more trouble than he ever could have imagined when the man returns, demanding the protection of the Church. He is Eduard Schwermann, a suspected Nazi war criminal.

Agnes Aubret has unburdened a secret to her granddaughter Lucy. Fifty years earlier, Agnes was in occupied Paris, risking her life to smuggle Jewish children to safety—until her group was exposed by an SS officer: Eduard Schwermann.

Not only has the Church granted Schwermann sanctuary before; in 1944 it helped him escape from France to begin a new life in Britain. As Anselm attempts to find out why and as Lucy delves deeper into her grandmother's past, their investigations dovetail to form a remarkable story.
 
William Brodrick makes a dazzling debut in this literary thriller where two seemingly unconnected lives gradually, shockingly converge. Brodrick, himself a former Augustinian friar, is a master of precision plotting, morally complex characterization, and crisp historical re-creation. In Father Anselm, Brodrick has crafted a unique and compelling hero. Taut and completely compelling, The 6th Lamentation promises to be the literary thriller discovery of the season.

 

CHAPTER ONE

"Sanctuary."

"My bottom!"

"Honestly."

The Prior, Father Andrew, was fond of diluting harsher well-known expressions for monastic use, but the sentiment remained largely the same. He was an unconverted Glaswegian tamed by excessive education, but shades of the street fighter were apt to break out when grappling with the more unusual community problems.

"It was abolished ages ago. He can't be serious."

"Well, he is," said Anselm.

"When did he come out with that one?"

"This morning, when Wilf asked him to leave."

The Prior scowled. "I suppose he declined to oblige?"

"Yes. And he told Wilf there's nowhere he can go."

The two monks were sitting on a wooden bench on the south transept lawn of the Old Abbey ruin. It was Anselm's favourite spot at Larkwood. Facing them, on the South Walk cloister wall, were the remnants of the night stairs from the now vanished dorter. He liked to sit here and muse upon his thirteenth-century ancestors, cowled and silent, making their way down for the night hours. The lawn, eaten by moss, spread away, undulating towards the enclosure fencing and, beyond that, to the bluebell path which led to the convent. It was a sharp morning. The Prior had just come back from a trip to London, having managed to miss the main item on all news bulletins. He'd returned home to find a gaggle of reporters and television crews camped on his doorstep.

"Give it to me again, in order," said the Prior. He always insisted upon accurate chronologies.

"The story broke in a local newspaper of all places. By the time the nationals had got to his home he was here, claiming the protection of the Church."

"What did Wilf say?"

"Words to the effect that the police wouldn't pay any heed to Clement III."

"Who was Clement III?"

"The Pope who granted the Order the right of sanctuary."

"Trust Wilf to know that." Disconcerted, he added, "How did you know?"

"I had to ask as well."

"That's all right then." He returned to his mental listing. "Go on, then what?"

"Wilf rang the police. The first I knew about anything was when the media were at the gates. I had a few words with them, batting back daft questions."

Father Andrew examined his nails, flicking his thumb upon each finger. "But why claim sanctuary? Where did he get the idea from?"

Anselm shifted uncomfortably. He would answer that question at the right moment, not now. It was one of the first lessons Anselm had learnt after he'd placed himself subject to Holy Obedience: there's a time and a place for honesty, and it is the privilege of the servant to choose the moment of abasement with his master.

The Prior stood and paced the ground, his arms concealed beneath his scapular. He said, "We are on the two horns of one dilemma."

"Indeed."

They looked at each other, silently acknowledging the delicacy of the situation. The Prior spoke for them both:

"If he goes, there'll be international coverage of an old man protesting his innocence being handed over to the police; if he stays, we'll be damned for supporting a Nazi. Either way, to lapse into the vernacular, we're shafted."

"Succinctly put."

The Prior leaned on a sill beneath an open arcade in the south transept wall, reflectively brushing loose lichen with the back of his hand. Anselm joined him.

"Father, I think one horn is shorter than the other and more comfortably straddled."

"Go on."

"The sooner he leaves the better. Otherwise we risk protracted public fascination with why he came here in the first place."

By a tilt of the head the Prior drew Anselm away, leading him towards the stile gate and the bluebell path. "I'm going to find out what the sisters think. They had a Chapter this morning."

As they walked through the grass, wet with dew, Anselm pursued his point. "If he's forced to go now, any uproar will be short-lived. And there is an explanation we can give in the future if we get hammered for throwing an innocent man onto the street."

"Which is?"

"This is a monastery, not a remand home for the elderly." Anselm was pleased with the phrase. It was pithy and rounded: a good sound bite...prepared earlier.

The Prior nodded, mildly unimpressed. Anselm persevered, eyeing the Prior as he'd often eyed judges in another life when trying to read their minds.

"The alternative is the other, longer horn. If he moves in, and that's what it will amount to, we're in trouble. There could be a trial." Anselm paused. "Nothing we say will convince any victims that we're not on his side."

They reached the stile and the Prior climbed over onto the path, gathering his black habit under one arm, the white scapular thrown over one shoulder. Anselm sensed him drifting away, chasing private thoughts. "We should find out more tomorrow night. Detective Superintendent Milby's coming at six. I'd like you and Wilf to be there. Then we'll have a Special Chapter. Let everyone know, will you?"

"Yes, of course."

Anselm watched Father Prior disappear along the path, across a haze of blue and purple, his habit swaying in the breeze, his head bowed.

Anselm had met Detective Superintendent Milby several times in the past. In those days Milby had been a foot soldier with the drugs squad. He had long hair and dressed in jeans, but still managed to look like a policeman. Anselm had been a hack at the London Bar and their meetings had been limited to the pro-forma cross-examination about stitching up and excessive violence. Like all policemen familiar with the courts, Milby had taken it in his stride. That was well over ten years ago, and they'd both moved on since then.

Leaning against the stile gate, Anselm could almost smell the heavy scent of floor wax from his old chambers, and hear again the raucous laughter of competing voices in the coffee room. He smiled to himself, winsomely.

When Anselm left the Bar it caused a minor sensation, not least because it was such a wonderful Robing Room yarn. Since it was endemic to the profession to treat such things with private gravity and public levity, Anselm only heard the lowered voices of shared empathy: "Tell me, old son, is it true? You're off to a monastery? I can say this to you, but we've all got secret longings. The job's not everything..."

Anselm had knocked up ten years' call but, unknown to his colleagues, had never fully settled into harness. There was a restlessness that started to grow shortly after he became a tenant. Imperceptibly, he began to feel out of place, as if in a foreign land. There was another language, rarely spoken, and he wanted to learn it. Determined attempts to live a "normal" life as a professional man floundered at regular but unpredictable intervals. He could be waiting for a taxi or heading off to court, doing anything ordinary, and he would suddenly feel curiously alienated from his surroundings. It was a sort of homesickness, usually mild, and occasionally acute. He later called these attacks by stealth "promptings." All Anselm knew at the time was that they were vaguely religious in origin. He responded by purchasing various translations of the Bible and books on prayer, as if the answer to the puzzle lay somewhere between the pages. On one occasion he left a bookshop having ordered a thirty-eight-volume edition of the Early Church Fathers. They remained as they came, in three cardboard boxes strapped with tape and stacked in the corner of his living room, and used as an inelegant resting place for coffee-cups and take-away detritus. Anselm would then recover, and continue his life at the Bar until ambushed by another God-ward impulse. It was a sort of guerrilla war for which he was always unprepared and ill-equipped. And all the while his book collection became larger, more comprehensive, and unread. Eventually he stopped buying books. He realised one day whilst looking through a wide-angle lens that he wanted to become a monk.

It was a slightly odd experience. On leaving the Court of Appeal one late November afternoon, he was stopped in his tracks by a Chinese tourist who never ceased to smile. Several gesticulations later Anselm stood beneath the portal arch of the Royal Courts of Justice looking into the camera of a total stranger.

Suddenly he felt the urge to put the record straight, to say, "Look, you're mistaken. I'm not who or what you think I am; I'm a fraud." This happy man from a far away place had pushed an internal door ajar and Anselm knew at once what was on the other side. He set off down the steps with incomprehensible protestations ringing in his ears-from himself...and from the tourist who'd inadvertently nudged him away from the Bar. Taking the bus to Victoria, Anselm walked past the bookshop and into Westminster Cathedral, where he sat down beneath the dark interlocking bricks of the nave, and prayed. It was to be the only moment of near certainty in Anselm's subsequent religious life. The jostling between doubt and perseverance was to come later. But at that time he understood, at last, what the underlying problem had been. It had been Larkwood Priory all along.

 

"Rich with medieval and biblical allusion, The 6th Lamentation is an intricate mystery of both the mind and soul.... [Brodrick] has written an engrossing novel in which appearances are disastrously deceptive and the sins of the father painfully come to bear on the sons (and daughters)." —USA Today

           
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Rich with medieval and biblical allusion, The 6th Lamentation is an intricate mystery of both the mind and soul.... [Brodrick] has written an engrossing novel in which appearances are disastrously deceptive and the sins of the father painfully come to bear on the sons (and daughters)." —USA Today



"A John le Carré in the making." —The Daily Telegraph, London



"A cat’s cradle of a mystery with the interwoven stories pulled as taut as a piano wire." —Martha Grimes



"A masterful blending of sharp suspense and literary resonance... truly compelling." —Jeffery Deaver



 

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  51 commentaires
64 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Close, but no cigar... 14 février 2004
Par Curtis Grindahl - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The suggestion by a reviewer appearing on the back cover that Mr. Brodrick might follow in the footsteps of his renowned countryman David Cornwall, known to lovers of spy fiction as John le Carre, prompted me to read this book. Immediately after finishing The 6th Lamentation, I began reading Absolute Friends, the latest book by Mr. le Carre. As an act of kindness I won't compare the efforts of these two authors.
I have great patience when reading but I have to admit feeling put off by the disjointed structure of this book. Movements of the main character, Father Anselm, at many points made no sense whatsoever. What appeared to be compelling leads for him to pursue were mysteriously set aside as we find the Father, once again, meandering through the grounds of his monastery conversing with various and sundry characters. The convolutions of the structure and the torpid pace of the inquiry by Father Anselm made it difficult for me to stay engaged with the story, which, in my opinion, is unnecessarily complex. It is also told in such a fragmentary way that it was difficult to hold the pieces together sufficiently to engage one's curiosity. I felt as though plot devices were set up intentionally to jerk me around, whether the fact of a primary character who is unable to talk or a significant finder of fact who stumbles at his table in a cafe and dies from the fall, or the abundance of people telling lies for reasons that escape me.
As a fan of historical fiction with a strong element of intrigue I really wanted to love this book but simply couldn't. Reading the autobiographical notes on the author I can appreciate how the various threads of this book came into being. His experience as a monk, attorney and son of a woman with a rare disease all managed to find expression in this piece of fiction. Perhaps next time, having exhausted the store of experiences of his lifetime up to this point, he will be able to sharpen his focus and bring us a story of greater subtlety that will engage and entertain us.
And now back to Absolute Friends...
(As a footnote I'll observe that people tend to rate most highly those reviews that are laudatory. I'm not certain whether this phenomenon is the product of folks who love the book in question and are offended that someone would think otherwise, or a belief that if you can't say something nice you should say nothing at all. I would like to believe that a well thought through assessment of a product, whether positive or less than positive, is of value to a prospective buyer of that product. But that's just one man's opinion...)
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Reward Your Patience 3 juillet 2004
Par Roderick Graciano - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Part historical fiction, part detective story, part courtroom drama, this Dickensian tale about the lives connected to a Nazi war criminal will reward your patience. The introductory chapters move slowly at first, but nothing is as it first appears. The intrigue builds to an amazing conclusion. This is a great story about relationships and the human condition. As bonuses, the story never becomes formulaic nor descends into vulgarity. I highly recommend it.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A NOTEWORTHY DEBUT AND READING 21 octobre 2003
Par Gail Cooke - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Cassette
A former Augustinian friar, William Brodrick well knows the focus of his compelling and ultra literate first novel. Voice performer Graeme Malcolm, a veteran of the Broadway stage, also knows his oeuvre well, and delivers a moving, highly listenable reading.
When an elderly man comes to Father Anselm's door seeking sanctuary, the prelate welcomes him to Lakewood Priory. Little does he know or would he have cause to imagine that his visitor, Eduard Schwermann, is a suspected Nazi war criminal.
Elsewhere, Agnes Embleton has little of mortal life remaining. Thus, she shares a half century old secret with her granddaughter, Lucy. Some fifty years ago Agnes had lived in occupied Paris where she worked with an underground group dedicated to saving Jewish children. But, it was not long before her group was discovered by SS officer Eduard Schwermann.
Thus begins an intertwining mystery that will hold listeners in thrall. Father Anselm learns that the Church has sheltered Schwermann in the past. Further, it assisted him in escaping to Britain and safety in 1944. Why? How could this be?
In addition, Lucy finds herself exploring her grandmother's once hidden past, little knowing the stunning facts she will unearth.
"The 6th Lamentation" is a mystery and a morality tale - a noteworthy debut.
- Gail Cooke
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Outstanding Read 17 septembre 2003
Par M. Waugh - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The many reviews posted here tell the plot of the story, and tell it well. However, what is most remarkable about this first novel is the pacing, the depth of the characters, and the passion in the writing. The mystery is not solved until the last page and just when you think you have figuered it out, there is a surprise to show you that you do not have it figured out. The language is exquisite; I read many passages over again because I liked the wording. This book deserves the special handling that booksellers gave Cold Mountain and The Lovely Bones. It deserves to be a best seller. Read it and enjoy and pass the word along.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Truely moving 3 décembre 2004
Par Michele - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is one of the best books I have read. The authors ability to evoke emotions through amazing imagery was wonderful.I found myself thinking about this novel and the questions it raised long after I put it down. The twists were beautifully executed(mostly due to the fully formed characters) always raising the thought in my mind about how peoples actions can be misinterpreted when we don't have all the facts. In my opinion this novel is not really in the spy genre but rather a look at human beings and their action in crisis and how preconceived ideas can cause misunderstandings of tragic proportions -absolutely wonderful novel
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