"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Her Death of Cold (Ralph McInerny)

Hello, all!  As promised, here is the first of what I hope will be a very productive summer of books.  To get the ball rolling, let's start with my first official summer read: Her Death of Cold by Ralph McInerny.  

This is the first book of The Father Dowling mysteries.  This is a series of books that follows the adventures of a Catholic priest, Fr. Dowling, who is pastor of a sleepy little town in the Midwest.  It starts off with a call in the middle of the night.  One of Fr. Dowling's elderly parishioners calls him in a panic, saying that she's afraid that her children are going to murder her.  They hate her and are only interested in her vast family fortune.  She concludes by telling him that she's afraid to live alone, afraid of death and of dying, and of what comes after that.  He advises her to pray and get some rest.  She does, and appears better afterwards.  Then, she disappears.  Her family is concerned and they try to figure out where she went.  Then, she turns up back in her house.  The doors are unlocked, she has a fatal wound on the back of her head, and her body appears to be thawed, as though someone had frozen her and then warmed her up again.  The police are at a loss as to what happened, and as the chief detective shares his frustrations with his friend (who just happens to be Fr. Dowling), more and more clues crop up.  And the mystery just gets stranger and stranger.

This was a good read.  Four out of five stars on Goodreads and a high expectation for the rest
of the series.  I liked that it was not just a cut and dry answer.  The mystery took a bit of unpacking, but once it did, it wasn't so convoluted that it was unreasonable.  It made pretty good sense to me.  That's what I want in a mystery: a solution that I couldn't guess, but that still makes perfect sense.  My only complaint was that there were a few dry patches, or too many characters were introduced at once and I had trouble recalling names.  But, that's more of my issue than the author's.

Since the central character is a priest, there is going to be some dogma, but like the Father Brown books by GK Chesterton, it never felt forced.  I actually really liked how the concepts of sin and crime were approached when viewed through a Catholic lens, and how even though he should be the poster boy for good Catholic behavior, we see that Father Dowling is not perfect.  Of course, he's no schmuck, but he's not a holier-than-thou saintly figure.  He's a man, just like anyone else.  He has his positive traits and flaws.  It made him feel more real to me.

I picked up the second book in the series (The Seventh Station) at the library, so be on the lookout for that review in the coming weeks!  Oh, and there was a TV series, so I'll be looking into that as well!

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