Andrew M. Greeley, Author . Forge $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-86874-1

Full of unexpected turns and twists, Greeley's popular series featuring the wry, resourceful Bishop John Blackwood Ryan continues, with the spiritual sleuth on the hunt for a young, charismatic priest missing in Paris. Blackie, as Ryan is fondly called, is dispatched by Chicago Archbishop Cronin to solve the disappearance of Father Jean-Claude while escorting the church official's sister-in-law Nora Cronin on her vacation to the City of Lights. Distrusted by the church hierarchy for his growing popularity, the telegenic Frenchman vanished without a trace while guiding TV producers through the famed cathedral of Notre-Dame, causing widespread rumors of foul play and unrest among his young followers. Blackie's efforts to gain the cooperation of church officials are thorough (too much so), but Greeley pumps new life into the sometimes sluggish tale with the arrival of the refreshing Celt beggar girl Marie-Bernadette, who acts not only as the bishop's translator but as his savvy interpreter of French culture. A good premise goes to waste here as Greeley appears to run out of steam halfway through this rather slim novel. Lacking much murderous activity, it seeks to satisfy its readers with a sedate blend of modern religious disputes, paired with the usual missing person plot, as well as long, taxing passages discussing French canon history, acts of faith and Gallic arrogance sprinkled with an occasional hint of possible mischief. Unfortunately, even the Greeley faithful may find the mystery's resolution weak and uncharacteristically gimmicky. (July)

Forecast:Although this entry may not be as strong as earlier outings in the popular series, it should do little to dampen Blackie enthusiasm, which will be fostered by national advertising plans and a teaser excerpt in Irish Eyes. Greeley fans will take this one in stride and eagerly await the return of their favorite sleuthing bishop.

Reviewed on: 07/09/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-8125-7597-2
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-1223-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7207-6
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