Fox River parishioners face the closing of St. Hilary’s.
What’s a cardinal to do when his flock diminishes and there are empty pews in too many churches? St. Hilary’s, home to Father Dowling for 30 years, is on the endangered list. Its shaken cadre of senior citizens form a group called Save St. Hilary’s (“Ssssh,” notes one disgusted member). Even more appalled is nonagenarian Jane Devere, whose forebears were not only among the parish’s first worshipers but donors of the handsome stained-glass windows by Peoria artist Angelo Menotti. If anything can save St. Hilary’s, it will be those windows. Jane has commissioned a book on Menotti’s church art, antagonizing other family board members by paying for it from the sizable Devere Trust. Is someone antagonistic enough to kill? When people start dying, there seems to be a link to the publishing house. Fox River Tribune reporters Tetzel and Rebecca nose around; lawyers Tuttle and Cadbury defend various clients; and a beautiful young Adonis keeps popping up under different names, some known to the Merchant Marine, others to the warden at Joliet. Meanwhile, Father Dowling remains calm even as the body count threatens to surpass the dwindling numbers of his congregation.
Despite the use of a notorious genre cliché to resolve all those murders, an affable, at times witty tale that will undoubtedly please the many fans of the Illinois cleric (The Wisdom of Father Dowling, 2009, etc.).