War in Heaven begins with the discovery of an unidentified corpse under the desk of Lionel Rackstraw, an editor at the Persimmons family firm. A few days later, Julian Davenant, the archdeacon of the village church in Fardles, visits Kenneth Mornington, a young editor at the firm, who shows him a copy of Historical Vestiges of Sacred Vessels in Folklore by Sir Giles Tumulty. Tumulty’s manuscript suggests that the Holy Grail (the chalice Jesus and his disciples drank from at the Last Supper) is at the Fardles church. Gregory Persimmons, the firm’s retired owner who is involved in the occult and has read the manuscript, determines to possess the Grail at any cost as a source of power for black magic.
Gregory moves to Cully, a country house near Fardles, to begin his quest. After a mysterious break-in at the church, and after Gregory unsuccessfully tries to purchase the chalice from the archdeacon, Gregory’s henchman attacks the archdeacon and steals it. Lionel and Barbara Rackstraw and their son, Adrian, are vacationing at Cully at Gregory’s invitation. Realizing that his occult power will be enhanced if he can corrupt an innocent child by initiating him into black magic, Gregory befriends the four-year-old boy and plans to take him and the chalice out of England.
A few weeks later, Mornington and the Duke of North Ridings, a local aristocrat, visit the archdeacon, who is convinced Gregory has the chalice. When they visit Cully, the archdeacon grabs the Grail from where it is prominently displayed and flees with his two friends. Despite a frenzied car chase, Gregory is unable to catch them, and the three men spend the night at the duke’s London home. Although Gregory wants the chalice for black magic, his allies in black magic, Manasseh and Dmitri Lavrodopoulos, want to destroy it. When the archdeacon senses that someone is...
(The entire section is 766 words.)