A Question of Death - The Vanishing of Jock McHale's Hat Synopsis

Dot wakes Phryne alarmed as the archbishops secretary is on the phone and wants to arrange a meeting between the archbishop and Phryne to discuss a professional matter. Phryne calms Dot down and arranges the meeting and then goes to bath

The archbishop and a man he introduces as the coach of Collingwood football club Mr McHale (who regards Phryne with dislike). The archbishop tells Phryne that whilst at mass someone had stolen Mr McHale's hat. The hat had been with Mr McHale for years and was his lucky talisman.
Phryne agrees to take the case and says she will go to early mass the next day to check out the crime scene. Phryne visitors leave and she contacts Cec and Burt (who know more about football than her) Cec tells Phryne that Collingwood had won the premiership the year before and it looked like they would win again this year. Phryne asks why someone would take it in church and Burt says it is the only place that Mr McHale would have to take his hat off.

The next morning Phryne went to church Phryne checks out the church but finds nowhere for a hat thief to hide. After the service she greets the priest and asks him if he notices anything untoward on the day the hat was stolen. The priest said after the service Mr McHale was talking to the alter boys about football in the forecourt he didn’t have his hat then which means the hat was taken during the service.

Phryne asks about the service and where Mr McHale would have taken off his hat. The priest says that hats are removed at the door. Phryne asks if anyone passes up the aisle during service and the priest says the communicants and those taking the collection Phryne makes note of who had borne the plate to Mr McHale and notices a piece of paper sticking out of the hassock which says 'thou shalt have no other gods before me'

Phryne then goes to visit the plate bearer Mr Flynn but finds he is not home. His maids directs Phryne to his place of work John Payford and Sons Religious Publishers. Phryne calls home to see if there are any messages and is informed by Mr Butler that there were two one a threatening call and one from Cec and Burt who were in hospital but not much hurt and would call on Phryne in the afternoon. Phryne asks Mr Butler to report the threatening call to the archbishop's secretary.

Phryne then heads to speak to Mr Flynn at his work she acts as his niece and says she is taking him to lunch. When they get to the tea shop Phryne reveals who she really is and tells Mr Flynn she knows he has Mr McHale's hat and how he took it but Mr Flynn refuses to give it back as he says it is a false idol. Phryne ask him who is he to judge another man's sins and tells him that the archbishop himself has asked her to find it. Mr Flynn pulls the hat out of his pocket and returns it to Phryne.

Back at home Phryne meets with Cec and Burt who say they got into a fight whilst searching for the hat. Later Phryne returns the hat the the archbishop and Jock McHale.

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