Carnage at Christhaven: A Serial Mystery Novel

William Griffin, Other HarperCollins Publishers $9.95 (154p) ISBN 978-0-06-061379-2
At a pastor's invitation, members of the All Hallows Society (read Chrysostom Society), a group of Christian authors whose books are widely read, assemble for a writers' conference and retreat at Christhaven, a lodge in the Colorado Rockies. Before the guests eat their first supper, the corpse of a missing nonfiction writer, ``whose several books had . . . made pain a popular topic of polite conversation,'' is discovered ``stretched out on a table in the dining room like an unholy offering to cannibals.'' The atmosphere of fellowship turns to one of suspicion as the survivors, now confined by a blizzard, attempt to unmask the murderer, and more dead bodies appear--one surfaces in a bathtub, wearing a white plastic bib inscribed with the words ``Just as I am.'' A corpse is ``swathed in an enormous fur coat'' by unseen hands, and female conference participants elude the killer by playing musical beds, the sheets and spreads madly entangled by dawn. The contributors, who include Madeleine L'Engle ( A Wrinkle in Time ) and Griffin, a PW contributing editor, enthusiastically follow the rules of the murder mystery genre, packing scenes with tension, action and plot twists. But silly, even absurd literary and religious in-jokes, abrupt transitions and cumbersome sermonizing sink this clubby caper. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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