Parlous times on (or adjacent to) the Notre Dame campus. Consider: Cedar Grove Cemetery, as old as the university itself, vandalized; the university chancellor kidnapped (if only briefly); restless Native Americans threatening uprise in the form of legal action for expropriation of their land; Florida State’s big, powerful, unbeaten football team set to invade South Bend, generating secret consternation in the breasts of the Fighting Irish faithful. And then, hard to believe though it may be, things get worse: a graduate student is found tomahawked to death. At this point enter that most desultory of private detecting teams: Knight Brothers Investigations (Irish Tenure, 1999, etc.). Roger, who doubles in brass as Notre Dame’s Huneker Professor of Catholic Studies, is the first to answer the sleuthing call, which is understandable, since for an unsettling instant, he himself had been a suspect. Philip, stirred to action by his brother’s plight, turns from his true passion—Notre Dame football—long enough to help establish Roger’s alibi. The knottiest question, the one most worrisome to university authorities remains open, however. Are the vandals, the Native Americans, and the ax-murderer connected in some way? Well, of course they are, and at their own unflapped, dilettantish, idiosyncratic pace the brothers Knight manage enough ratiocination to indicate the links.
Flashes of wit, patches of tedium—more patches that flashes. McInerny (creator of Father Dowling as well as Andrew Broom) has done better work elsewhere.