Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Stained Glass by Ralph McInerny

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Stained Glass by Ralph McInerny. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Stained Glass by Ralph McInerny

by
A Father Dowling Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-58264-1 (0312582641)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-58264-7 (9780312582647)
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: Father Dowling fights to prevent the closure of his church while solving a series of perplexing murders in Stained Glass, the 28th mystery in this series by Ralph McInerny.

In these financially challenging times, there is, sadly, a shrinking number of parishioners attending church, and parishes that have been isolated by demographic change are the most affected. The Chicago Tribune has posted a list of churches expected to be closed by the Cardinal, and St. Hilary -- Father Dowling's church -- is one of them. Father Dowling appeals to his congregation and supporters of the church to join him in fighting its closure. He is grateful to discover that one of his most outspoken supporters is Margaret Ward, matriarch of the wealthy Devere family. August Devere, her grandfather, was a parishioner when the church was built, and had commissioned the renowned artist Angelo Menotti to design and assemble the stained glass windows for the church. Margaret Ward believes the building is beautiful and historic, and hires Carl Bartoff, editor of the Sacred Heart Monthly to create a book illustrating the stained glass windows, not only of St. Hilary's but also of other small endangered churches. She gives Bartoff a check for $100,000 to start the project. But then a woman is found dead, murdered, and the police determine she has a connection to Margaret Ward. And when several other people are killed, all indirectly associated with the Devere family, Father Dowling realizes he must solve this series of crimes to protect not only the reputation of a parishioner, but quite possibly too the church itself.

Fans of the series will take comfort in the familiar style of Stained Glass, like old friends or family that one doesn't spend enough time with but should. Father Dowling is in top form here, at his deductive best, in solving this intricately plotted mystery, the resolution of which will likely come as a surprise to many readers. Even after 28 novels, there is a freshness to this series that is quite delightful, and most welcome.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Stained Glass and to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Tough times and the unsolved murders of anyone with ties to the Deveres -- a family of wealthy parish patrons -- back Father Dowling up against a wall in his struggle to save his church from the chopping block.

With too many churches and not enough people to fill them, the Archdiocese has to make some cuts, and many of them, including the proposed closing of St. Hilary’s, are dangerously close to the bone. Father Dowling rushes to drum up support from church officials and parishioners, including the Deveres, who don’t want to see the stained glass windows they donated go anywhere other than the church they were meant for, but they can hardly be of help when those closest to them start turning up dead.

Church politics, long-kept family secrets, and a determined killer come together to put St. Hilary’s -- a church that countless characters and devoted readers have come to love -- and its parishioners in peril.

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