Forge, Jul 2001, 24.95, 252 pp.
In the blink of an eye, the charismatic and incredibly handsome Frere Jean Claude Chretien becomes the toast of France through his dynamic TV sermons. While filming a show on the excavations at Notre Dame Cathedral, Frere Jean Claude vanishes. Desperate to reduce the uproar over the missing Frere Jean Claude, the Archbishop of Paris, aware of American Bishop Blackie Ryan's sleuthing skills, asks the priest's boss Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Cronin for help. Naturally, Cardinal Cronin assigns Blackie to solve the case while accompanying his subordinate to France.
In Paris, Blackie begins to investigate. In front of St-Germain des Pres Church he meets Marie-Bernadette begging for money. When he learns she speaks English, Blackie hires her as his translator while he sifts through clues. However, as they work together, the duo soon learns that much of the French establishment do not want this case resolved.
THE BISHOP AND THE BEGGAR GIRL OF ST. GERMAIN is an entertaining cozy starring an intriguing priest. Blackie is a wonderful character, but the addition of Marie-Bernadette as his sidekick adds depth while her cynical wisecracking keeps him and the readers amused. The mystery is clever, but the story line slowly moves forward. Fans of Andrew Greeley will appreciate his latest tale, but anyone who wants action need to go to a different pew.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner