Soul Murder is a mystery set in a boys’ school in Ireland, the land of myths and fairies. For its few bows to modernity, St. Isidore’s is a gothic castle filled with shadows and the urgency of history, the young charges living in dormitories that reek with the secrets of centuries. Such a place can be magical or the scene of horror.
When a small group of young boys returns after a midnight barbecue - a school tradition of sorts - they are shocked to discover their teacher in the tower dorm, his throat slashed, virtually swimming in his own blood. Soon Superintendent Denis Lennon and Sergeant Molly Power are on the scene, interviewing headmaster, teachers and boys and entertaining scenarios for the murder.
When a young French student is kidnapped soon after, Lennon and Power are forced to consider the contemporary take on such crimes - an act of terrorism, perhaps. After all, governments have poured resources into anti-terrorism programs, prepared to address any threat. And Lennon is urged to consider this explanation to the exclusion of more rational probabilities.
Lennon temporizes, thinking the culprit more likely to be found closer to the scene of the crime. To that end, Lennon and Power address the recent activities of the murdered man, the students at St. Isidore’s, and various eccentric characters on the scene. St. Isidore’s is a boys’ school after all, and history is rife with the infamous deeds behind closed doors in such halls of academia.
A former lawyer turned Benedictine monk, Nugent writes a chilling tale of murder and the loss of innocence, of betrayal and despair. When yet another body is found, slain in the same manner as Tyson, Lennon has only begun to assemble critical pieces of a harrowing story of murder and kidnapping, where young boys are the victims of those meant to care for them: “Envy of the innocent is one factor in abuse. Carnal knowledge is another.”
Soul Murder is just that: the slaughter of innocence. Dark secrets lurk behind thick doors at St. Isidore’s, an ugly history that must be purged for the sake of the students. Nugent does an excellent job of drawing the reader into this dark night of the soul, the plundering of childhood to feed the needs of a twisted mind: “So it is that vampires spawn vampires of their virginal victims.”