He shuffles along, a human caterpillar, in beat-up, ill-fitting clothes and a style so understated that no bad guy ever takes him seriously. You’re thinking Columbo. Well, sure, but he’s got nothing on Bishop Blackie.
Bishop Blackwood Ryan of Chicago is—if you’ll pardon the expression—a devil. Under that unprepossessing exterior, beats the heart and clicks the brain of a master manipulator. He’ll scheme, conspire, blarney, charm the pants off you—all for a good cause, of course. As Sean Cardinal Cronin, his boss, is wont to say: “Thank God, Blackwood, you are on our side.” So now there’s trouble indeed in the old neighborhood: three dead bodies, stripped and mutilated, desecrating the sanctuary of St. Lucy’s, the parish church. How to explain it? True, Father Mikal, the parish priest, is a controversial figure, but does animus go deep enough to warrant so bizarre a message? Or is the culprit an anti-progress zealot, warning that no act is too dastardly in the holy war against gentrification? “Arguably,” responds Bishop Blackie, his favorite comment during periods of pondering. He goes to work and enough affirms, as he has so often before (The Bishop Goes to the University, 2004, etc.), that the best murders are both personal and rooted in the past.
Sentimental, yes; irritatingly fey on occasion, yes, but it moves fast, and there are people to like. Blackie’s top to date? Arguably.