William X(avier) Kienzle

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Newgate Callendar

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In "Mind Over Murder," Mr. Kienzle has set out to write a murder mystery, but for a long time, nothing much happens. Drawing on his own experiences as a priest, the author must have his say about the bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church. He reflects a liberal viewpoint: The way both evil and good men can subvert the essential meaning of the church clearly disturbs him. The result is writing that bogs down into didacticism.

When things do happen, the plotting suddenly gets very tricky. About halfway through, the killer is revealed. But soon afterwards, the same priest who was murdered once is again murdered—by another killer. And by a third, a fourth, a fifth. Eventually the "mystery" has to end in a rational explanation, but Mr. Kienzle comes up with a fairly lame one. He is a good writer, but here he is too clever for his own good, and some readers may feel cheated.

Newgate Callendar, "Crime: 'Mind over Murder'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1981 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), June 21, 1981, p. 29.

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Newgate Callendar


Katha Pollitt