cover image The Tears of Things: A Father Dowling Mystery

The Tears of Things: A Father Dowling Mystery

Ralph M. McInerny. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-312-14746-4

McInerny's 17th Father Dowling novel (A Cardinal Offense, 1994, etc.) combines the familiar St. Hilary's parish setting and cast--Fox River police Captain Phil Keegan; cops Cy Horvath, Agnes Lamb and Peanuts Pianone; lawyer Tuttle; rectory housekeeper Marie Murkin--with the contemporary topic of adoption. When leading citizen Mitchell Striker is murdered, evidence points to Jerome Winegar, recently arrived in town. Twenty years ago, Winegar got Striker's daughter, Nancy, pregnant. Striker was financial adviser of St. Peter's School, where Winegar was then a top student. He had Winegar, an orphan, expelled, and Winegar subsequently disappeared. Nancy, now married to Jim Walsh and the mother of two boys, put the baby up for adoption. Shortly afterward, Striker and his wife adopted an infant daughter, Kate, who now wants to find her birth mother. The solution to the murder of Striker and two subsequent victims is no surprise, nor is the truth of Kate's parentage. But McInerny keeps readers engaged by expertly creating the insular world of the parish and leading widows, businessmen, priests, even the rectory janitor, through a circuitous plot with deadpan humor. His evenhanded treatment of the difficult choices facing a pregnant, unwed young woman is especially effective. (Nov.)