Father Robert Koesler is seemingly incapable of saying no to anyone requesting his services or participation. In consequence, he is constantly discovering that what he though was to be a quiet weekend or a peaceful night with a good book, preferably a mystery, must be reluctantly abandoned. Such is the case with the Autumn Writers Workshop at Marygrove College. When Sister Janet Schultes requested his presence at a seminar on the role of religion in murder mysteries, Father Koesler dutifully accepted. Now he must fulfill that obligation.

What might have been a long and tedious exercise assumes an altogether different character when one of the writers in residence is found dead. His death appears to be the accidental by-product of a plot to murder yet another member of the professionals assembled to share their experiences with the audience. Admittedly, the Reverend Klaus Krieg is not a mystery writer--indeed, he is not a writer of any kind, save of contracts. Krieg is not only a popular television evangelist but also a publisher who specializes in soft pornography with religious themes. Each of the writers in attendance, including the deceased, has cause to hate and fear the obnoxious Krieg. Each has a secret the revelation of which could mean personal and professional disaster. Krieg has been using his knowledge of the writers’ secrets to “persuade” them to lend their talents to his firm--if, that is, he can manage to avoid death at the hands of his several enemies.

This is the twelfth in a continuing series which began with the absorbing and witty THE ROSARY MURDERS. While not every one of the annual volumes in this series has been a jewel, Kienzle has not succumbed to writing to a formula. In fact, in several books in the series Father Koesler remains in the background, allowing some of those who customarily serve in a supporting role to take center stage. MASQUERADE, however, is classic Koesler as the good Father mixes attention to detail with Catholic theology to fasten the blame where it belongs.