Auxiliary Bishop Blackwood Ryan of Chicago, who never saw the locked-room mystery he couldn’t crack (The Bishop and the Missing L Train, 2000, etc.), gets a Gallic challenge in his third time out. In Paris with his boss, the Cardinal Archbishop, Blackie confronts the knotty case of the vanished priest—and not just an ordinary priest, but handsome young Friar Jean-Claude, idol of millions of Frenchmen and -women mesmerized by his television sermonizing. In preparation for a TV documentary, he’d been guiding a team of writer-producers through certain excavations when he vanished, leaving bewildered searchers amazed that he could have walked through walls. Is Blackie deterred by the conundrum? Au contraire. All he needs is a translator like beautiful beggar girl/street musician Marie-Bernadette. And just as she’s the answer to Blackie’s prayers, he’s the answer to hers. In short order she’s become a Watson in skirts to his Holmes in surplice, and together they discover that not everyone in the hierarchy wants the mystery solved. Some in very high places felt threatened by the charismatic Jean-Claude, while others in quite ordinary places may have loved him far too well. Blackie keeps at the mystery until at length that locked door opens for him. Many readers, however, will have reached the same point tout de suite.
Slight and slow. Mostly for the faithful.