When I first saw the title Death of a Liturgist I must say I was intrigued. Judging by the title I though I always like a book with a happy ending. Well actually I was intrigued, but was really wondering if the novel was worth reading or whether it was a vehicle for liturgical polemics. Lorraine V. Murray is an author I have heard good things about with her “Confessions of an Ex-Feminist” and “The Abbess of Andalusia – Flannery O’Connor’s Spiritual Journey”. Death of a Liturgist is her second mystery novel with “Death in the Choir” being her first.
Actually reading the novel I was quickly engrossed in the story and finished it up in two protracted readings. The story follows Francesca Bibbo a woman who had lost her husband two years previously and her parish St. Rita. St. Rita is kind of an idealized traditional parish with a solid choir singing Gregorian Chant and seemingly untouched by the Spirit of Vatican II. The parish priest though is being assigned to another parish and another priest is brought in. This priest hesitant about his responsibilities in a much larger parish and afraid of being overwhelmed after advertising for help ends up hiring an affable man named Chip trained as a liturgist. It’s easy to imagine the changes Chip brings about in this parish considering how many times this has happened before. Folk hymns, Stations of the Earth, and tampering with every aspect of the liturgy and religious education. While Chip meets lots of opposition he is very good at getting his way, but with a lot of feathers ruffled in this parish. The title of the book pretty much gives away that something happens to this liturgist and the subsequent murder investigation. Francesca Bibbo and her boyfriend a Police Detective get quite caught up in the ensuing mystery. Apparently Francesca Bibbo was also a character in her novel “Death in the Choir” which has quite excellent reviews.
As a mystery the book was fairly satisfying with the normal false clues and misdirections, though I was able to figure out what happened to Chip the liturgist. I think the book did need another suspect for us to be misdirected by since the number of suspects that we got to know was rather slim. The theme of the liturgy and proper celebration is of course red meat for people like myself and those who follow Father Z and other liturgically minded blogs. I did like the presentation of the new pastor and the difficulties of dealing with so many issues and pressures from groups wanting opposite things. While the changes the liturgist make and the conflicts with a more traditionally minded nun and people of the parish shows some real-world conflicts, the liturgist is not presented just as a one-dimensional character, and that can be said about most of the characters of the book. I also like some of the themes about dealing with liturgical conflict, staying with a parish, and the importance of the Eucharist winning out over other concerns.
I do know that I will be looking up her other books now since I did enjoy this one.
This book was put out by Saint Benedict Press and I must say I was impressed by the cover art which really stood out. I was also impressed with the eBook version of the book I received and the attention to detail in it concerning the use of color. So often eBooks are just created by publishers with no real concern as to what can be done in that format. It was nice to see that recently Tan Books started offering books by Saint Benedict Press as reasonably priced eBooks.
Jeff, I thought if you get any comments on this post, “IT” won’t be too many so I think I’ll try kick starting “IT” off for you and God only knows why I’m doing “IT” cause I don’t read books but I do enjoy watching movies and figuring out what will really happen at the end and on occasions, “IT” gives me a kind of a high telling my wife what will happen and she accuses me of having seen “IT” before but as far as I know the only ones who might have seen “IT” is my soul and/or my spirit. Go Figure! 🙂
Anyway this story you mentioned above reminds me of what has taken place in our city of a Saint Rita church being closed and I met a woman from their church choir who had a great voice. The priest who left that church was quietly spiritually accused by another priest of not being fair to woman because he was against them joining the priesthood and no one knew of this man but when I looked if in the eyes, he gave me his name because after I confronted him after church of not making “IT” clear in his sermon that same-sex-marriages would be a bad idea if “IT” was allowed, in other words, “IT” was what he didn’t say in his sermon and to make a long story short he told me the name of that Saint Rita priest who he believed was wrong with woman in the priesthood. In reality, there was no murder but spiritually speaking “IT” kind of murdered this church cause “IT” is now being closed.
I believe that another church was closed by the angels because another priest also quietly wanted to allow woman in the priest hood in our Catholic church and to make another long story short, this priest was charged for sexually abusing children which I consider as another spiritual murder in our Catholic churches cause that church was also closed.
To be fair, I believe that there still is a lot of good in them and I’m not going to get into “IT” right here, right now cause that could turn into liturgical polemics if you know what I mean?
The Lord does work in mysterious ways does He not? And your point is Victor?
Do you think that “IT” would make an interesting book or would “IT” be a too liturgical polemical story? 🙂
God Bless Peace
As a mystery the book was fairly satisfying with the normal false clues and misdirections, though I was able to figure out what happened to Chip the liturgist. I think the book did need another suspect for us to be misdirected by since the number of suspects that we got to know was rather slim.
A rare time I disagree with you. I prefer Chesterton’s take on whodunnit’s–they should be short stories that present the crime, the conundrum and the clues necessary to solve it, and then just resolve it. Red herrings, false leads, etc are just padding.
About TAN books offering St Benedict Press products… Didn’t St Benedict Press buy TAN last year or so? It’s probably the case the St Benedict is using the TAN storefront to sell their non-TAN wares.
When I first saw the title Death of a Liturgist I must say I was intrigued. Judging by the title I though I always like a book with a happy ending.
That made me laugh out loud! Good one!