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    EMERALD AISLE by Ralph McInerny


    St. Martin's Minotaur, November 2001

    Joseph Primero, wealthy Catholic book collector, discovers that some of his most valuable works have been stolen and hires detectives (and Notre Dame professor) Roger and Philip Knight to find the thief. The obvious suspect, Primero's estranged wife Bianca, admits to hating Primero's books, but Primero won't believe the Knight's evidence. When Bianca is discovered dead, the Knights feel compelled to add this to the list of crimes to be investigated.

    The problem is not a lack of motives. Bianca's lover is a lawyer recently engaged to a Notre Dame alumnae. Either the lawyer or his fiancee Dolores would have reason to take steps to eliminate the grasping and vindictive woman. Dolores's former love interest is strangely compelled to protect her from the lawyer--setting him up as the fall guy might win back his former love. Primero loved his wife, but could he have been pushed too far. Primero's favorite candidate is his archivist who cannot deny both a fascination and an aversion to the victim.

    Moving among familiar landmarks on the Notre Dame campus, and mixing detection with Catholic thought, the Knight brothers uncover plenty of facts about the case. But facts, themselves, can be interpreted in multiple ways.

    As with the previous mysteries in this series (see our reviews of IRISH TENURE, and THE BOOK OF KILLS), author Ralph McInerny provides a smooth and fast-moving mystery. The selection of two dissimilar brothers, one a career detective and the other an overweight Catholic intellectual makes for interesting contrasts and the opportunity to approach the mystery from intellectual and ethical points of view rather than as a simple fact-finding mission.

    McInerny's women seem less well crafted than the male characters, allmost all of whom wrestle with moral dilemnas (in contrast, the women hurry to throw off their careers to get married and plan weddings). Still, this doesn't prevent EMERALD AISLE from being an enjoyable fast read. See more reviews of novels by McInerny.

    Three Stars

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