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    Review of THE ARCHBISHOP IN ANDALUSIA by Andrew M. Greeley (see his website)


    Forge Books, November 2008

    Archbishop Blackie Ryan is in Seville, Spain to help the Cardinal there deal with a strange situation. Duchess Teresa, a beautiful widow, is being manipulated and bullied by relatives and supposed fiances (supposed because the relatives claim the right to name fiances even though Spanish law does not allow this). The Cardinal suspects there's enough anger there to provoke murder. Sure enough, Teresa is found with barbituate poisoning, a knife in her abdomen, a gunshot wound to her head, and a locked door.

    Blackie has never met a locked door mystery he couldn't unravel and he's sure he knows how the door lock was overcome--exactly who did it, though, is a bit of a mystery. After all, the attempted murder occured just after Donna Teresa promised the relatives the money they desperately need to bail them out of financial difficulties. Surely it's not in their interest that she die.

    Author Andrew M. Greeley (see more reviews of mysteries by Greeley) writes convincingly of the difficulties in the Catholic Church, the love of God, and of the life-affirming nature of the love between man and woman. To a large extent, the mystery itself takes second place to Greeley exploring his understanding of faith (Greeley is a Catholic priest). This, essentially, is both the strength and weakness in the story. From a mystery perspective, there just isn't enough going on here--not enough clues, not enough action, not enough danger. THE ARCHBISHOP IN ANDALUSIA has to be seen as a story in which the mystery serves as a sort of hatrack on which Greeley can hang his thoughts about the world and about God's love. Fans of hardboiled detective fiction probably already know to steer clear of Greeley's mysteries, but ANDALUSIA is more contemplative and slow-moving even than many of the other Blackie Ryan mysteries.

    Greeley is a strong writer, involving the reader in the story and opening our eyes to the fascinating, if sometimes horrible, world of Church politics and the eternal battle between those who forgive and those who can only hate.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 2/26/09

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