Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 183
Kienzle's second thriller ["Death Wears a Red Hat"] matches "The Rosary Murders" as a dazzling fusion of acid comedy and grisly doings connected to Roman Catholic traditions. Father Koesler, the detectives and newspaper reporters—familiar from the first novel—work hard to solve another wave of murders in Detroit. The shocks begin with the discovery of a mobster's severed head, tied to a Cardinal's hat in the cathedral. Then more heads of notorious criminals who have escaped justice turn up, replacing the tops of statues in churches and the seminary. The gruesome "capital" punishments give Father Koesler solid clues; so does his knowledge of voodoo rites, leading to the killers' unmasking. But the priest then has to wrestle with the dilemma of whether to report his secret. The story is a rouser in more ways than one; it could make any reader with a guilty conscience a bit uneasy.
"Mysteries: 'Death Wears a Red Hat'," in Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the February 22, 1980, issue of Publisher's Weekly, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1980 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 217, No. 7, February 22, 1980, p. 93.