Ralph McInerny Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ralph McInerny brought to the mystery genre a theological and philosophical base, and his books look at events from an orthodox point of view. He scrutinizes the social and moral problems of the contemporary church; studies the relationships between a priest and his parishioners, a nun and her sisterhood, and a lawyer and his client; and examines crimes that grow out of a loss or failure of faith or a lapse into one or more of the seven deadly sins. His priest, Father Dowling, must wrestle with issues surrounding the sanctity of the confessional, the loyalties of the church hierarchy, and the confusions wrought by changes in the church itself; his nun, Sister Mary Teresa, must face the realities of a failing order, the confusions of lonely women trapped in a changing world, and the extremes of fanatics; his lawyer, Andrew Broom, in turn must confront the puzzles of life and death and seek meaning through action. McInerny is particularly interested in causal chains in which violence begets violence and a single act unleashes a series of interlocked events.

For his fiction, McInerny received the Mystery Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and the Crisis magazine P. G. Wodehouse Award in 1995.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

DeAndrea, William L. Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television. New York: Prentice Hall, 1994. Contains brief entries on Ralph McInerny and two of his major fictional creations: Father Dowling and Sister Mary Teresa Dempsey.

Kirkus Reviews. Review of Still Life, by Ralph McInerny. 68, no. 18 (September 15, 2000): 1319. A review of a novel featuring Egidio Manfredi of the Fort Elbow, Ohio, police force, who investigates the disappearance of a poet and encounters a case of mistaken identity. The novel is praised for its interesting theological concept—how long should one be responsible for acts of the past—and for its world-weary protagonist, but the reviewer takes McInerny to task for his verbosity.

Levin, Martin. “Reader’s Report.” Review of Jolly Rogerson, by Ralph McInerny. The New York Times Book Review, November 26, 1967, p. 68. A review of Jolly Rogerson, in which the protagonist is an ordinary professor at an ordinary university who, dissatisfied with his lot in life, begins conceiving absurd research projects, writing poison-pen letters, and turning his lectures into surrealistic exercises.

Lukowsky, Wes. Review of Sub Rosa, by Ralph McInerny. Booklist 98, no. 4 (October 15, 2001):...

(The entire section is 517 words.)