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Well read. My first foray into this series. I am not Roman Catholic (didn't matter much). Though the premise is comic, the plot is not a strong point. The characters are nuanced and lively. The dialog is great (Is there a Blarney Stone in Chicago?). No one is black or white, and the author's love of humanity and impatience with cant shines through. Definitely not self righteous or preachy, as I had feared from encountering some other "religious" works. More in the spirit of Ruth Dudley Edwards than any other author I've recently encountered.
Andrew Greeley, one of the most prolific writers ever, has another good book in his Bishop Blackie Ryan series. Blackie is a catholic bishop who has a great love of life and amazing deductive powers. (He even likes to refer to God as "she," perhaps to show how much he refuses to be trapped by tradition?)
In this book, he must solve the mystery of what has happened to a new bishop who has made himself so unpopular with his rigid and often hurtful insistence on the letter of religious law (as opposed to the spirit of it) that several have been heard to make frustrated remarks wishing him dead. Unfortunately, many get their secret wish when the new bishop, and the train he was riding on, both disappear! He is finally located, but badly injured by a huge overdose of heroin that will likely render him unable ever to function in his old position again.
In what becomes a frantic search to find the perpetrator, Greeley explores larger questions about guilt, and leaves the reader pondering a few other ethical issues as well. In this book, the stories of two people who have uttered these desperate wishes that Bishop Quill were dead, form part of the back story, explaining what it was about the man that was so odious. Unfortunately, it also makes them obvious suspects, so their stories are interesting, even endearing in a way, on their own.
If you have never read a Blackie Ryan novel you are in for a treat. And for the best part of all, this book is narrated by the incomparable George Guidall. I did not give either story or narrator 5 stars because I am aware of better books/narrations by Greeley and Guidall, but even so, this was a really good book, and I greatly recommend it.