"The clever plot, the subtle clues, and above all, the ideas make this well worth reading." —West Coast Review of Books
From William X. Kienzle, author of the classic mystery, The Rosary Murders.
When Father George Wheatley decided to convert from the Anglican Church to the Roman Catholic, he thought he had painstakingly considered the sacrifices he would have to make. He knew his celebrity status as a beloved Anglican priest, evidenced by his newspaper column and radio show, would be in jeopardy. He understood the strain the change would put on his wife and children and the challenges he would face to be accepted as a married Roman Catholic priest. He even acknowledged that reactionaries in both camps would oppose such a spiritual changeover. But he never dreamed that his decision would breed such waves of ambition, jealousy, and hatred that the ultimate human sacrifice—murder—would be the result. Nor did he appreciated how much of a sacrifice would be asked of him.
In his twenty-third appearance, Father Robert Koesler, a Detroit parish priest with a penchant for being involved in murder, accompanies his friend Father Wheatley through his tortured path to conversion and helps him seek resolution of a crime. With his compassion, knowledge of human nature, and experience, Father Koesler is able to not only resolve a murder mystery, but also to give true understanding to the concept of sacrifice.
The latest in the author's long-running series of didactic mysteries featuring Detroit priest Father Robert Koesler (following Till Death) restores a better balance between mystery and religion. As usual, a thorny religious issue is at the center of things, and Kienzle has posited a doozy. Father George Wheatley, an Episcopal priest of some renown, has undertaken to convert to Roman Catholicism. That decision has caused great consternation in Wheatley's family as well as shock in the Episcopal and Roman communities. In addition to continuing to flog the changes wrought by Vatican II, the author explores such issues as the differences and similarities between Anglicans, Episcopalians and Romans (all of whom consider themselves Catholics), and whether Catholic priests should be permitted to marry and women allowed to become priests. Sharing center stage, and danger, with Wheatley are Father Koesler, who has befriended him during his conversion, and Father Zachary Tully, whose church will be the site of Wheatley's ordination. Plenty of folk are opposed to Wheatley's ordination, including his (Episcopal) priest son, Ron; his seminarian daughter, Alice; and various lay and clerical Roman Catholics who see Wheatley's conversion as one more assault on their venerable church. When a murderer strikes before the ordination can take place, Koesler and the police must scramble to unmask someone willing to kill for his or her beliefs. In a series that has not been aging well, this is a refreshingly strong entry.