cover image Grave Undertakings: A Father Dowling Mystery

Grave Undertakings: A Father Dowling Mystery

Ralph M. McInerny. Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20309-2

Mimi O'Toole is hoping for a miracle when she asks Father Dowling in the hospital for absolution for her dying husband, a shooting victim. Vincent O'Toole was known to be an associate of the Pianone crime family, and his funeral draws every notable in the local underworld to St. Hilary's church in Fox River, Ill. The cops don't seem all that anxious to find O'Toole's killer, until someone tries to dig up his grave on Halloween and his casket is later discovered to be empty. In his effort to figure out what happened to O'Toole both before and after death, Father Dowling remains the calm center in a swirl of events involving gangster Salvatore Pianone, his daughter Angela and nephew Giorgio, the grieving widow and her cult-member son, as well as a couple of private investigators and even friends on the police force. Dowling finds that Sal Pianone is a very different man in private, a collector of rare books and manuscripts (one of which has disappeared), who is perhaps too close to his daughter but not close enough to Giorgio. Shifting from one character's point-of-view to another, McInery (Seed of Doubt, The Tears of Things) keeps the reader on edge as his intrepid sleuth-priest solves the crimes in question and bit by bit gets to the bottom of the bitter rivalries simmering below the slickly tailored surface of this 19th installment of a deservedly popular series. (Jan.)