Tuesday, September 30, 2014
"Chameleon" - hiding a mystery in church talk
Chameleon by William X. Kienzle is the first of the religious mystery books I've read to prep for my own possible mystery writing adventures.
The book held my interest - good.
The priest detective, Father Koesler, was interesting - also good.
But it is by no means perfect.
As a mystery, too much time is spent lingering on the red herrings, so much so that I knew they didn't do the killings just because the author was working too hard to make it seem like they could be guilty. The actual killer and how he's stopped seemed a bit of a stretch - but I've seen worse.
The part of the book that really did not sit well with me, though, was there was way too much churchy talk. The writer, an ex-priest, seemed to be using the book to ruminate about his own views on the Church, which he clearly loves and cares about, but which in his view needs reform. Okay, I don't object to that, but some of the issues and inside baseball talk seem a bit dated (even though the book is only about 20 years old), and some of the characters go on and on about them. I began to wonder if Kienzle was using the book to deal with his own concerns - or was he just trying to pad to the book to get it to the standard paperback mystery length?
I wasn't sure how this would play with non-Catholics. Indeed, the library from which I borrowed the book has a page stuck in it for reader comments, and one of the previous readers wrote "too much religion."
I think it would be a better book had he cut down on the church talk and spent more time on the mystery, and on the criminal as opposed to the red herrings.
Not a bad book. But it could have been better. I'll try another one of his books later - maybe one of his earlier ones.
Pax et bonum