Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE BISHOP AT THE LAKE by Andrew M. Greeley



As it almost always is with the Bishop Blackie Ryan stories, I found this book to be a mixed bag.  The mystery seemed contrived, but the story of a rich, highly conflicted Irish family interested me.

This book involves attempted murder.  It is supposedly a closed room mystery which takes place, mostly, in a restricted setting.  How did the perpetrator get the weapon in the locked room? 

The author's explanation is unbelievable, even with the massive incompetence of the local police.  

But the conflict in a rich Irish family is both believable and interesting.  The family includes a variety of people.  Some are grasping and insane, and some are competent and good.  In other words, they are like a lot of families.

When a power-grabbing bishop family member is attacked and almost killed, Bishop Blackie is "vacationing" in their unusual lake home.  He is there to work the mystery through.  

One of the most interesting elements of these stories for me is the description of Roman Catholic politics.  Having grown up in the Roman Catholic church (I have long-since abandoned the ship), I was taught to see bishops and priests as holy.  

We all know now, of course, that nothing could be farther from the truth.  They are just like the rest of us.  The group includes some saints, some sinners, some truly despicable men, and lot of ordinary people.  And these books portray that.   They talk about the politics of the church, the grasping for power, the trying to manipulate Rome and its minions.

So, for me, I often pick up Bishop Blackie, mostly for the things around the mystery, not for the mysteries themselves. 

That's the way it was with this book.

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I bought this book through The Mystery Guild Book Club.

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