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    THE SACRIFICE by William X. Kienzle

    Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001

    Anglican Priest George Wheatley has decided to become a Catholic. He is about to be confirmed as a Catholic priest despite having a wife and children when a bomb explodes in the church delaying the ceremony and killing a visiting priest. Father Koesler, a frequent assistant to the Detroit police on matters involving both crime and the Catholic faith, is called to help. There are no shortage of suspects. Traditionalist Catholics hate the idea of a married priest, especially a liberal married priest who actually favors ordination of women. Anglicans feel betrayed by Wheatley's conversion. His daughter is studying to become to become an Anglican priest herself and now faces discrimination. His son wants to become an Anglican bishop and may now fail in that ambition. His wife is torn up over the dissention within her family.

    Author William X. Kienzle does a good job seeding the novel with red herrings. Nobody has an alibi, anger and resentment is very real, and what was in that box a priest carried into the church slightly before the explosion? His novel is also rich with information about the conflict within the Catholic church between liberals and conservatives, old and young. Father Koesler is an interesting and sympathetic character, aging, with an open mind and a sure sense that he is contributing to the world both through his faith and through his help to the police.

    Readers may bog down occasionally with long sections of dialogue explaining differences between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The chapter involving Wheatley's daughter Alice and her friend Sue is especially talky without adding a great deal to the plot or even serving as useful red-herring material. This, however, appears to be Kienzle's style--it's a reasonable price to pay for an enjoyable mystery and religion lesson at the same time.

    Three Stars

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