Somehow I didn’t catch this one when it came out in 2005, so I just got to reading it last week. I think I’ve already made it pretty clear that I like Andrew Greeley’s writing, though in most of his books one of the key reasons is theological. I think he produces the best representation of the gospel in fiction form of anyone I have ever read. I add that I find his stories entertaining as well, and I should note that he’s got to write the best sex scenes written by a celibate.
The Bishop Blackie mysteries, on the other hand, are purest entertainment. In the background is Catholic church life, and the gospel is there, but it is not as much front and center. What we have is a set of excellent mysteries where the key detective happens to be a bishop.
In this one, there is some serious mayhem in Cardinal Sean Cronin’s old neighborhood, involving a parish priest who is his classmate. With his typical “see to it, Blackie” he places the matter in Bishop John Blackwood Ryan’s capable hands, while he heads off to Rome to pick up a few markers. All the normal characters are there, the virtuous cops and the corrupt cops, the boorish and stupid feds, the stupid and somewhat venal as well as the dedicated priests.
Since I tend to lose interest in long running series unless the authors are very good, the best recommendation I can give this book is that I enjoyed it as much as the first Father Blackie book that I read, and I’ll look for the next one with equal anticipation. (Honor Harrington, for example, has run long enough to lose my interest, but David Weber is just too good an author, but even though I adore Alan Dean Foster’s work, the latest Pip and Flynx novels seem to be getting weaker.)