St. Martin's, July 2003, 24.95, 352 pp.
Father Roger Dowling, the priest of St. Hilary's church in Fox River, Illinois, is rather shocked when Eleanor Wygnant who is not a member of his congregation, asks him to stop Jessica Bernardo from writing a book about her family. Realizing that Jessica's doings are not his concerns, he refuses to talk to the woman. The Bernardos are going through a difficult time of it right now with the patriarch of the family hospitalized and not expected to survive.
His son Raymond, who he hasn't seen in a decade, returns home knowing that his father despises his for leaving the priesthood and running away to California with a woman he later marries. Eleanor is worried that once Raymond's father dies, the love letter she wrote him during an affair will become public and hurt her sister-in-law. Raymond's younger brother Andrew, a college teacher with tenure is being held in jail on a homicide charge. Father Dowling doesn't think Andrew is guilty and sets about to prove it.
LAST THINGS is a very entertaining amateur sleuth novel starring a protagonist who is so likable readers will feel an immediate bond with him. Much of this novel is a relationship drama starring the Bernardo family and it is only the last quarter when the mystery really takes off. In fact, this is one Father Dowling mystery in which the popular priest plays a secondary albeit important role. Ralph McInerny has written another pleasing who done it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner