Father Malachi
(creators: Diane Marqaurt Moore & Isabel Anders)

Diane Marquart Moore
Father Malachi is the abbot of the Benedictine monastery, St Andrews Abbey, in southern Louisiana. He “differed from his fellow monks in that he had married and lived in the world before he became a seminarian, then a monk, and, now, an abbot." He had previously worked as a psychiatrist dealing with disordered minds, but then his disturbed wife had committed suicide at the age of 30. This had led him to find "a way of returning to his heart through reading about the Rule of St Benedict”.
When confronted with problems, he always found he solved them best “when he refocused his mind from the immediate puzzlement and let his intuitions sort the mixed pieces of the enigma, suggesting a solution without his overt attention. Of course, he accomplished this while saturating himself in prayer and petitioning the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

(Rev) Diane Marqaurt Moore is the former archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, and a writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and news articles who lives for part of the year in New Iberia, Louisiana, and part in Sewanee, Tennessee. She has published 26 books, including young adult fiction. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Isabel Anders has written over 20 books for adults, young adults and children, including the award-winning book Becoming Flame: Uncommon Mother-Daughter Wisdom (which has been described as "a poetic perfection of biblically inspired values with a folklore feel"). She is a graduate in English from Wheaton College, with an M A in Religious Studies from Mundelein College, Chicago. She has been a writer and editor in publishing circles for more than thirty years.She lives with her family in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Chant of Death (2010)
Chant of Death is set in a fictional Benedictine abbey in southern Louisiana, which has suddenly found fame and “staggering profits" from CD sales of its Heavenly Choir, under its charismatic young cantor and choirmaster, Father Paul. But the caring Abbot, Father Malachi, is concerned that any obsession with their chart chopping chants might “cause the monks to replace the teachings of the Gospel, the centrality of the Word, or usurp their order's essential Benedictine Rule either.”

He is also troubled by the presence of uninvited guest and self-appointed unkempt prophet, Fr. Eli Jahles, whom the press had facetiously dubbed Eli-Jah. He “lurked in the corridors and sometimes brandished a knife resembling a small sword at dinner as though it were designed to pierce bone and marrow,” and Abbott Malachi starts to recognise that he is a “paranoid schizophrenic in a delusional state.” But it is when Father Paul's dead and almost beheaded body is found in front of the chapel altar, and then a second death occurs, that the Bishop tells Malachi, “The activities going on here certainly indicate the need for spiritual direction, penance, and prayer. Malachi, I suggest that you do your own sleuthing to clear the Church of any complicity.”

Malachi makes significant discoveries that lead him to suspect that “The most apparent activity going on at his monastery was voodoo", even if he is reluctant to share his discoveries with the police. It all works up to a rather unlikely climax. By then Malachi had become obsessed with his investigation (and "even considered going to the library in town to check out old Agatha Christie mysteries to read, as if the Grand Dame could uncover for him pertinent clues and help him name the killer.") but in the end, it is chance, rather than Malachi's shrewdness, that leads to the murderer's unmasking.

The contemporary monastic background is well handled even if the behaviour of some of the lead characters, such as publicist John Landry and tough woman Detective Wagner do not always quite convince, and some incidents, such as the way that TV journalist Sarah Hinds treats her audience to a long explanatory lecture about the prophet Elijah, do not entirely ring true. However, despite (or perhaps because of) its oddities, it makes an interesting and entertaining story that holds the attention throughout. Recommended.


Diane Marqaurt Moore publishes her own blog entitled A Words Worth. Isabel Anders has her own website.



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Diane Marqaurt Moore
Isabel Anders
Isabel Anders
Chant of Death cover
The unusual cover of an unusual story that holds the interest throughout.
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