The moral ambiguity of murder.
Ten years before Father Dowling’s housekeeper Marie escorted Nathaniel Green over to St. Hilary’s Senior Center, he had confessed to killing his cancer-stricken wife Florence and been tried, convicted and sent to Joliet. Now released, he returns and to universal surprise makes out a will leaving everything to his hated sister-in-law Helen, who never forgave him for what he did to her sister. Quickly marshaling her forces, Helen convinces the other seniors to shun him. Natalie is too busy being courted by newcomer Eugene Schmidt to care much, but when Eugene accidentally rams the center’s van into Helen’s car, sending her head first into an abutment, she becomes one of Helen’s heirs. So does Helen’s ne’er-do-well son Jason, a gambling drunkard. When Jason is pummeled with a baseball bat, his legacy ends up in the hands of his estranged wife Carmela, now romantically attached to her business partner Augie, whose sister married into the notorious Pianone family. Egged on by his housekeeper, the local press and ruminations from his mentor Willy Nilly, Father Dowling (The Widow’s Mate, 2007, etc.) starts to untangle the real story behind the outbreak of homicide, if not to the satisfaction of his housekeeper Marie, certainly to his legion of fans.
Father Dowling’s 27th gently probes questions of guilt, intention and absolution while having a bit of fun with small-town nattering.