cover image Happy Are the Merciful

Happy Are the Merciful

Andrew M. Greeley. Jove Books, $6.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-515-10726-5

Beautiful, rich Clare Turner is on death row, condemned for slitting the throats of her adopted parents. Now Terry Scanlan, the prosecutor who put her there, has fallen in love with her and become convinced that he's convicted an innocent woman. It's up to Bishop ``Blackie'' Ryan, ace detective of the diocese of Chicago, to right the wrong. Along the way he must solve a locked-room mystery, mollify the Mafia, reveal the sexual affair of the victims' neighbor, keep Turner alive amid jailhouse co-conspirators, find Turner's natural parents and survive a hit-and-run attempt on his own life. Greeley ( An Occasion of Sin ) clearly knows, reveres--and uses--every classic whodunit clue, red herring, plot twist and character. Homages to everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Twin Peaks abound, but Father Greeley successfully updates the traditional trappings of the ``English genteel'' mystery to weave a compelling tale. The weakest part of the story is Scanlan and Turner's love affair, which seems forced. However, the dialogue is lean and the plotting appropriately convoluted yet logical. Aficionados of the genre will find little about which to complain. There are more than 15 million Greeley books in print. (Mar.)