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Ah, the seventies! It was a simpler time, when Detroit was known for its seedy underbelly of crime instead of its hungry underbelly of crushing poverty. A time when people could read about Catholic priests in the news and not automatically assume the words "molestation" or "pedophile" would be in the opening paragraph. A time when William X. Kienzle would decide to start a mystery series about a priest named Father Koesler.
First published in 1978, The Rosary Murders is the first in the Father Koesler series. It's being promoted on NetGalley to coincide with its re-release, which is how I stumbled upon it. I'm so glad I did! What an intriguing series. It's certainly dated in places, but I didn't mind (well, not too much, though there were times when the language used was uncomfortable to read, like calling a murder victim "rapable" or an African American police officer "a black"...so I did mind that). It felt very much like some of my favourite horror movies from the 1970's in which Catholic priests must battle evil (mwuh-ha-ha).
The story is that there is a killer on the loose and he's targeting priests and nuns. Can Father Koesler solve the case (of course he can, he's the star of the series) before it's too late (well, no, several people die first--that's what makes it a murder mystery) while still keeping his clerical vows and maintaining the secrecy of the confessional (aye, there's the rub)?
Speaking of movies, there's also a movie version of The Rosary Murders
starring Donald Sutherland which came out in 1987, but I've heard less than great things about it. I'd suggest sticking to the books.
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley.com. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.