cover image TRIPLE PURSUIT: A Father Dowling Mystery

TRIPLE PURSUIT: A Father Dowling Mystery

Ralph M. McInerny, TRIPLE PURSUIT: A Father Dowling Mystery

In McInerny's 20th Father Dowling mystery in 24 years, the pensive, perceptive priest figures out a not very difficult case involving three seemingly separate murders that affect his St. Hilary's Catholic Church parish in Fox River, Ill. The usual cast of characters includes Dowling's nosy housekeeper, Marie Murkin; his longtime friend, police captain Phil Keegan; tenacious police detectives Cy Horvath and Agnes Lamb; and lethargic cop Peanuts Pianone. A young woman recently moved to town falls—or is thrown—into traffic and dies. Two more are strangled to death: bright, flirtatious young lawyer Aggie Rossner and motel housekeeper Ruby Otter. The investigation is confused by a fight at the St. Hilary's Senior Citizen Center between two elderly widowed brothers-in-law, Jack Gallagher and Austin Rooney, over an attractive widow. Jack was having an affair with Aggie and confesses to her murder, trying to protect his married son who was also involved with her. In addition, Jack's daughter and her lawyer fiancé interfere, causing mild complications. The Dowling books are comfortable—leisurely and repetitive with familiar situations and issues. McInerney's strengths are his dry wit and realistic depiction of the elderly, as well as his all too human characters such as down-at-the-heels lawyer Tuttle; his temporary secretary, the frighteningly efficient Hazel Barnes; and the senior center busybody, Desmond O'Toole. (Apr. 23)

Forecast:A predictable entry in a generally lackluster series should still please the older audience who are Dowling's principal fans, but it will take a miracle for this novel to increase McInerney's reader base.