Fifteen Father Dowling mysteries first published in Catholic Dossier, most of them from the mid-’90s.
Father Dowling, who has been minding his rapidly aging flock at St. Hilary’s church in Fox River, Ill., through numerous novels, short stories and a television series now in reruns, continues to do what he does best: listening, counseling and—after conferring with his policeman pal Phil Keegan, lawyer Amos Cadbury and teasing rectory housekeeper Marie—gently offering absolution when it’s appropriate and a blind eye when digging into long-past matters would cause unnecessary upheaval. The two most intriguing of these reprints are “Death Wish,” which upends a mercy killing, and “The Giveaway,” which includes an unprompted confession that needs rescinding. “On Ice,” a wry look at cryogenics, showcases the author’s puckish sense of humor, and “Ashes to Ashes,” which deals with bodies that turn out not to belong to the family that claims them, provides another twist on the favorite McInerny (Ash Wednesday, 2008, etc.) theme of switched identities.
Non-taxing puzzles, all of them, but the company is likable. Fans and newcomers to McInerny (are there any such souls left?) will find the collection a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.