Sunday, February 28, 2010

Abracadaver, A Father Dowling Mystery by Ralph McInerny

Abracadaver,
A Father Dowling Mystery


by Ralph McInerny

A magic show at St. Hilary’s Parish sets the ball rolling for murder. It’s the dead of winter in Fox River, Illinois and we soon learn the community is upset by the disappearance of the wife of a well to do real estate developer.

At first, the newspapers depict a loving marriage and grieving husband but as the weeks eked by with no news for the reporters, they turned on the husband and implicate him as having an affair with a coworker.

Is it true? Did he bump off his wife to make way for a new missus? Or did the “new woman” get rid of competition?

Father Dowling finds himself in a mess of rumors and deaths. Can he help the police or will he become the next victim?



I didn’t particularly care much for this book, which came as a surprise to me. I was all set to sink my teeth into Father Dowling in book form, having religiously watched the show as a kid.

The book had a little humor (what was there was good) and little character depth.

(I crave character-heavy stories.)

To be fair, there were 148 pages so something's gotta give.

There was no Sister Steve, either. I confess I don’t remember the show but for the slightest impressions – I do remember the nun named Steve as a bright and colorful character and a cool, 80’s woman.

I liked the descriptions of a Chicago winter as it was so accurately portrayed (and I read it during a snowstorm so I only had to look out the window to picture the scene McInerny set so perfectly).

I had trouble following the narration. Maybe it was me, maybe not. There were so many ‘he’s’ and ‘she’s’ that I often didn’t know who was speaking or thinking about whom.

Then there’s the lack of Father Dowling – it was barely his story, the narration moving from one investigator to another. (As far as I could follow.)

I can recommend this book because the mystery is well done – the story just didn’t match up with my particular tastes. It could be my preconceived notions, comparing the book to an old TV show I barely remember - you know how it is when you expect one thing and get something else.

Has anyone read this series? Did you watch the TV show? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the TV show. Yes, Sister Steve was a "character". It was always a good mystery based on Father Dowling & Sister Steve.

I have not read the books. It always is disappointing to expect one thing & get another.