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The Rosary Murders
Father Koesler Mystery, No 1
William Kienzle

Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC
May 15, 2012 /ASIN: B008027Q16
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Kindle Edition

Reviewed by Beth E. McKenzie

In the mid-western county where I was raised a Baptist there is a large Catholic population. I don't recall any outright segregation or violence, but neither group was encouraged to socialize with the other. Of course this meant all things Catholic fascinated me, especially the men and women who took holy vows. Sister Bertrille and The Singing Nun were shining examples to me as a child. At a later age I found Margaret of Shaftsbury and Deer Abbey and then Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma. My appetite was sated by Father Brown, Father Dowling, Torquemada, the stories of the saints and even the English Queen, Mary Tudor. It is hard for me to believe I missed this series of books!

Father Bob Koesler is the priest-editor of the diocesan weekly paper, Detroit Catholic. He resides at St. Ursula's rectory and helps the aged Father Pompilio with mass, confession, various other tasks, and is an avid reader of mystery novels. He finds out through his dual role that a certain elderly priest has been helped up the stairway to the Pearly Gates on Ash Wednesday. Shortly after this discovery a nun at St. Ursula's convent is attacked and drowned in her bath. Every week that follows there is another murder of a Detroit-based priest or nun. The head of the police special task force, Lt. Koznicki, is using the Father as a resource and area liaison. The Command Sergeant thinks it is crazy to involve amateurs who think they are sleuths because they solve book mysteries. I probably don't need to tell you who comes up with the key points in the police investigation, and of course the murderer visits the confessional while Father Koesler is there.

There is a subplot of a friendly love affair between two investigative reporters at the Detroit Free Press and visions of another Pulitzer driven by the DFP Editor-in-Chief. There is considerable discussion about various rifts in the Church and the laity. I like the version of priests I see here, not too stuffy, not reprobates; some drink too much, some smoke incessantly, some coerce their flock into attending mass or are lazy in the confessional. The thing I like most about this having been originally published in the late 1970's, there are no cell phones!


Reviewed 2012