Father Dowling Mysteries

One of America’s favorite mystery writers passed away last month.  Author Ralph M. McInerny, author of the “Father Dowling” mystery novel series, died on January 29, 2010 at age 80 in Mishawaka, Indiana.  Born in Minneapolis in 1929, McInerny studied at the St. Paul Seminary and considered becoming a priest, but instead went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. from Laval University in Quebec.  He became a religious scholar, with particular expertise on Thomas Aquinas, and taught philosophy and medieval studies at Notre Dame for over forty years.

Although he was a prolific writer (more than eighty books), he is probably best remembered for his “Father Dowling” mysteries. There were twenty-nine books in the series, which eventually became a TV show, “The Father Dowling Mysteries” running from 1989 to 1991 starring Tom Bosley.  The first book in the series was Her Death of Cold (Vanguard Press, 1977).

Her Death of Cold by Ralph M. McInerny - First Edition, Vanguard Press, 1977
Her Death of Cold by Ralph M. McInerny – First Edition, Vanguard Press, 1977

Father Dowling is an endearing character, a former canon lawyer whose career aspirations ran off the tracks when his drinking became problematic.  For “rehabilitation” he is sent to a small Midwestern town called Fox River to be a parish priest.  A surprising amount of crime occurs there, and he discovers his true talent, an unusual gift for solving murders.  The books are cleverly written and well plotted, and as he fights his own demons, justice is rendered by the good father with intelligence and a sense of moral order that is not heavy-handed.   The books are very enjoyable reading, and first editions can be collected without breaking the bank.   We have a few first editions available here at Old Scrolls Book Shop.

Bishop as Pawn by Ralph M. McInerny

Bishop as Pawn by Ralph M. McInerny - First Edition, Vanguard Press 1978

His second mystery series was written under the pen name of Monica Quill, ten books featuring a sleuthing nun named Sister Mary Teresa.  A third mystery series featured a lawyer, Andrew Bloom; and yet a fourth series was set at Notre Dame. He was two books into a mystery series about an almost retired Ohio detective named Egidio Manfredi.  McInerny wrote many other novels outside of his mysteries, a volume of poetry, and many non-fiction books, including books on the Catholic religion and Christian philosophy.  His autobiography, I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You – My Life and Pastimes, was published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2006.

The “Father Dowling” mystery series includes:

Her Death of Cold (1977)

The Seventh Station (1977)

Bishop as Pawn (1978)

Lying Three (1979)

The Second Vespers (1980)

Thicker Than Water (1981)

A Loss of Patients (1982)

The Grass Widow (1983)

Getting a Way with Murder (1984)

Rest in Pieces (1985)

The Basket Case (1987)

Slight of Body (1989)

Four on the Floor (1989)

Judas Priest (1991)

Desert Sinner (1992)

Seed of Doubt (1993)

A Cardinal Offense (1994)

The Tears of Things (1996)

Grave Undertakings (2000)

Triple Pursuit (2001)

Prodigal Father (2002)

Last Things (2003)

Requiem for a Realtor (2004)

Blood Ties (2005)

The Prudence of Flesh (2006)

The Widow’s Mate (2007)

Ash Wednesday (2008)

The Wisdom of Father Dowling (2009)

Stained Glass (2009)

HAPPY READING!

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Published in: on 02/21/2010 at 1:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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