Cover image for The book of kills : a mystery set at the University of Notre Dame
Title:
The book of kills : a mystery set at the University of Notre Dame
Author:
McInerny, Ralph, 1929-2010.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000.
Physical Description:
275 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780312203467
Format :
Book

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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Prior to the kidnapping of several school administrators and the desecration of headstones in the Cedar Grove Cemetery, the University of Notre Dame's biggest worry had seemed to be this season's challenging football schedule. But these pranks are getting more and more serious. Then, Orion Plant, an eccentric scholar in the history program, began attracting negative media attention by claiming the university founder, Father Edward Sorin, stole the land on which the school sits from Native Americans. All in all, it's more than the board of trustees can handle.
A potentially costly lawsuit, embarrassing publicity, and a scandalous half-time prank broadcast on national television, cause university chancellor Father Bloom to turn to detective Philip Knight and his brother, brilliant philosophy professor Roger Knight, for help. But just as the brothers dig into the investigation, the scholar turns up dead, an Indian headdress wrapped around his bloody head. The South Bend police department is stumped, leaving the Knights once again to bring the killer to justice.
Another cleverly constructed and witty installment from one of the genre's masters, The Book of Kills is a delightfully sinister stroll through the hallowed halls of academia.


Author Notes

Ralph McInerny was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 24, 1929. He served in the Marine Corps in the late 1940s. He received a bachelor's degree from St. Paul Seminary in 1951, a master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1952 and a doctorate in philosophy from Laval University in Quebec in 1954. He was a member of the University of Notre Dame faculty from 1955 until 2009. He gained international renown as a scholar, author and lecturer who specialized in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. During his academic career, he was the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies and director of the Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame. He is founder and publisher of Catholic Dossier magazine and co-founder of Crisis magazine.

His philosophical works include Aquinas on Human Action, The Question of Christian Ethics, and Aquinas and Analogy. His novels include the Father Dowling Mystery series, an Andrew Broom Mystery series, and the Sister Mary Teresa Mystery series. He also wrote under the pseudonyms of Harry Austin, Matthew FitzRalph, Ernan Mackey, Edward Mackin, and Monica Quill. He died on January 29, 2010 at the age of 80.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans of academic whodunits will find much to chuckle over in this fourth Notre Dame mystery (On This Rockne, etc.) from the creator of Father Dowling, featuring the sleuthing Knight brothers, the hulking Roger and private detective Philip. A series of pranks, including the kidnapping of the chancellor, has alarmed the Notre Dame administration, and the Knight brothers get the call to investigate. The various shenanigans seem somehow related to the claim by a group of Native Americans that the land on which the famed university stands was stolen from them and should be returned. A longtime history graduate student, Orion Plant, has uncovered information in the course of his dissertation research that allegedly bolsters this claim. But when Plant turns up dead, the Knight brothers have to delve even deeper to discover who had the most compelling motive to murder him. Does Plant's long-delayed dissertation have anything to do with his death? Could his long-suffering wife, waitress Marcia Younger, have finally tired of his dallying with Professor Otto Ranke's daughter, Laverne, and done him in? And what about the unsolved murders of a number of Native Americans in South Bend years before? The Knights have to sniff down many trails in order to find the right answer. McInerny has fashioned another deft and mordantly witty excursion into the rarefied atmosphere of Notre Dame. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 THE TROUBLE BEGAN ON AN October Saturday at the log chapel. Two stretch limos came up the road behind Bond Hall, which housed the architecture department, and parked. Out of them poured a wedding party. The bride wore a traditional white gown, the bridesmaids were in blue, the men in formal attire. The groom was an alumnus, the bride his childhood sweetheart, and he was fulfilling an undergraduate dream of being married in the log chapel on the Notre Dame campus, a venue in even more demand than Sacred Heart Basilica, the university church. Father Burnside, who had been rector of the groom's undergraduate dorm, was to meet them at the chapel door. But there was no sign of the priest. The chapel door was guarded by two men done up in traditional Indian garb. "Have you seen a priest?" "He's inside." They did not get out of the way. The best man, another alumnus, had made the football team as a student, a tight end who had played a total of eight minutes in a game that had been won already in the first half. He stepped forward, expanded his chest, and explained that a wedding was scheduled. "The priest is our prisoner," one of the Native Americans said. "We are reclaiming our property." In Cedar Grove Cemetery, the sexton was appalled, the more so because he had not noticed the outrage when he came to work that morning, though he must have driven right past the toppled grave markers. One had stood six feet tall and when it fell had done damage to a number of neighboring graves. The sexton called for his crew to make a thorough reconnaissance to see if there were other instances of vandalism. He assumed that it was vandalism, kids from town in the momentary grip of adolescent madness who had thought pushing over gravestones made some profound statement to the universe. There were three desecrated graves, if that was not too heightened a way of putting it. The sexton did not think so. He used the term five times in speaking to campus security. To the provost he spoke of sacrilege. Cedar Grove Cemetery was as old as the university itself. It was located on Notre Dame Avenue, as good as on the campus, just south of the bookstore and Eck Alumni Center. For some years there had not been a single unspoken-for grave site in Cedar Grove, but more land had been acquired to the west when the golf course was relocated and now a fortunate few more could look forward to awaiting the last trump in the company of the earliest generation of South Bend. It was Roger Knight, the Huneker Professor of Catholic Studies, who later noticed a pattern in the vandalism. Coquillard, Pokagon, Pokagon's son. Old Father Carmody nodded. "Contemporaries of Father Sorin." Edward Sorin was the founder of the University of Notre Dame, a visionary French priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross who had found a small trading community on a bend in the Saint Joseph River when he came to claim the property he had bought for what he grandly called his university. "Frenchmen like himself," Carmody added. "Not entirely, Father. Some of them had Indian blood as well. And Pokagon was a chief." Meanwhile, Father Burnside had been released from custody and the wedding in the log chapel went on as planned. But when the happy couple and their party returned to their rented vehicles to be driven away to the Morris Inn for the reception they had to pass between ragged rows of half a dozen surly men all dressed up as Indians. "What's going on?" "Keno sabe?" "Be careful." On the following day, Wednesday, the university chancellor did not return as scheduled from a trip to Hong Kong. A call to the Michiana Airport revealed that he had arrived in South Bend on the appropriate flight. "Johnny!" said Miss Trafficant impatiently. Anita Trafficant was the chancellor's secretary and Johnny the chancellor's driver. There was enmity between her and Johnny. The chauffeur had an annoying habit of acting as if he worked directly for the chancellor and was on an equal footing with Miss Trafficant! She would not have been human if she did not relish the thought of scolding him for whatever had happened. But he did not answer his car phone. Miss Trafficant believed in scheduling. Her success at her job depended in large part on the efficient way in which she arranged the chancellor's day. Without her precise allocation of his time, he could not have done half of what he did. She had allowed an hour and a half from the time of his arrival at the airport to the first appointment of the day. Father Bloom should be well rested from his long flight in business class across the Pacific. Two hours passed and the chancellor had not arrived on campus or come to his office. The tenth call to Johnny's car got an answer. His speech was slurred and he made little sense. "Have you been drinking?" The answering obscenity was sufficiently garbled that she could honorably ignore it. She managed to learn where he was. "You were supposed to pick up Father." There was a call on her other phone. She cut off Johnny and took the call. "This is the Blue Cloud Nation. The chancellor of Notre Dame is our prisoner. Stand by for further instructions." The phone went dead. The consensus in the lounge of Corby, the building where lived priests who were not rectors of residence halls, was that it was a student prank. Johnny had been slipped a mickey and the students who met the chancellor's plane hit upon the politically incorrect excuse that Indians had kidnapped him in an effort to reclaim the property on which the university stood. True, this theory had been floated recently in an allegedly humorous column in the student newspaper, but then it was difficult to distinguish intended from unintended humor in that publication. "They got the idea from the log chapel incident." "Or the vandalism in Cedar Grove." "What if they're all connected?" "How?" The speaker had held up one hand as he spoke, but then immediately let it drop to the arm of his chair. In the faculty senate the Quinlan Resolution was being debated. If passed, it would become the sense of the senate that the administration should appoint a committee to meet with the Blue Cloud Nation in order to review with utmost seriousness their claim that ancestors had been bilked out of the land on which Notre Dame stood. "It doesn't matter," one phlegmatic senator observed. "There isn't a patch of earth that was not at one time inhabited by someone other than those currently inhabiting it." "These people weren't even alive at the time." "Their quarrel is with Sorin." "He's dead." "So are their ancestors." "It's a matter of justice." "You want to give the place back to the Indians?" "If they'll have it." "If it is theirs it would not be a gift." An observer from the Observer thought that the senate as a body was inclined to think that Notre Dame had been built on a foundation of injustice and crime. A video of the captive chancellor was delivered to Corby Hall. He looked disheveled and unfocused, but then he wasn't wearing his glasses. He seemed to be reciting when he spoke. "I have pledged to correct any injustice that has been done against the Blue Cloud Nation by the University of Notre Dame." His eyes lifted to the camera and filled with tears. His lower lip trembled. "I'm sorry," he said. "He didn't know what he was saying." "So what's new?" "He was just reading words written for him." "So what's new?" "You can't just wish away an institution that has been situated on this land for over a century and a half. What would the Indians do with the land?" "A casino?" "They'd sell it." "That's the answer! Give it back to them and then we buy it right back. If all they want is money . . ." This turned out not to be true. They wanted the land. They wanted the lakes. They wanted the woodland. They wanted their old burial ground back. "Where is it?" "It has yet to be located." 1 THE TROUBLE BEGAN ON AN October Saturday at the log chapel. Two stretch limos came up the road behind Bond Hall, which housed the architecture department, and parked. Out of them poured a wedding party. The bride wore a traditional white gown, the bridesmaids were in blue, the men in formal attire. The groom was an alumnus, the bride his childhood sweetheart, and he was fulfilling an undergraduate dream of being married in the log chapel on the Notre Dame campus, a venue in even more demand than Sacred Heart Basilica, the university church. Father Burnside, who had been rector of the groom's undergraduate dorm, was to meet them at the chapel door. But there was no sign of the priest. The chapel door was guarded by two men done up in traditional Indian garb. "Have you seen a priest?" "He's inside." They did not get out of the way. The best man, another alumnus, had made the football team as a student, a tight end who had played a total of eight minutes in a game that had been won already in the first half. He stepped forward, expanded his chest, and explained that a wedding was scheduled. "The priest is our prisoner," one of the Native Americans said. "We are reclaiming our property." In Cedar Grove Cemetery, the sexton was appalled, the more so because he had not noticed the outrage when he came to work that morning, though he must have driven right past the toppled grave markers. One had stood six feet tall and when it fell had done damage to a number of neighboring graves. The sexton called for his crew to make a thorough reconnaissance to see if there were other instances of vandalism. He assumed that it was vandalism, kids from town in the momentary grip of adolescent madness who had thought pushing over gravestones made some profound statement to the universe. There were three desecrated graves, if that was not too heightened a way of putting it. The sexton did not think so. He used the term five times in speaking to campus security. To the provost he spoke of sacrilege. Cedar Grove Cemetery was as old as the university itself. It was located on Notre Dame Avenue, as good as on the campus, just south of the bookstore and Eck Alumni Center. For some years there had not been a single unspoken-for grave site in Cedar Grove, but more land had been acquired to the west when the golf course was relocated and now a fortunate few more could look forward to awaiting the last trump in the company of the earliest generation of South Bend. It was Roger Knight, the Huneker Professor of Catholic Studies, who later noticed a pattern in the vandalism. Coquillard, Pokagon, Pokagon's son. Old Father Carmody nodded. "Contemporaries of Father Sorin." Edward Sorin was the founder of the University of Notre Dame, a visionary French priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross who had found a small trading community on a bend in the Saint Joseph River when he came to claim the property he had bought for what he grandly called his university. "Frenchmen like himself," Carmody added. "Not entirely, Father. Some of them had Indian blood as well. And Pokagon was a chief." Meanwhile, Father Burnside had been released from custody and the wedding in the log chapel went on as planned. But when the happy couple and their party returned to their rented vehicles to be driven away to the Morris Inn for the reception they had to pass between ragged rows of half a dozen surly men all dressed up as Indians. "What's going on?" "Keno sabe?" "Be careful." On the following day, Wednesday, the university chancellor did not return as scheduled from a trip to Hong Kong. A call to the Michiana Airport revealed that he had arrived in South Bend on the appropriate flight. "Johnny!" said Miss Trafficant impatiently. Anita Trafficant was the chancellor's secretary and Johnny the chancellor's driver. There was enmity between her and Johnny. The chauffeur had an annoying habit of acting as if he worked directly for the chancellor and was on an equal footing with Miss Trafficant! She would not have been human if she did not relish the thought of scolding him for whatever had happened. But he did not answer his car phone. Miss Trafficant believed in scheduling. Her success at her job depended in large part on the efficient way in which she arranged the chancellor's day. Without her precise allocation of his time, he could not have done half of what he did. She had allowed an hour and a half from the time of his arrival at the airport to the first appointment of the day. Father Bloom should be well rested from his long flight in business class across the Pacific. Two hours passed and the chancellor had not arrived on campus or come to his office. The tenth call to Johnny's car got an answer. His speech was slurred and he made little sense. "Have you been drinking?" The answering obscenity was sufficiently garbled that she could honorably ignore it. She managed to learn where he was. "You were supposed to pick up Father." There was a call on her other phone. She cut off Johnny and took the call. "This is the Blue Cloud Nation. The chancellor of Notre Dame is our prisoner. Stand by for further instructions." The phone went dead. The consensus in the lounge of Corby, the building where lived priests who were not rectors of residence halls, was that it was a student prank. Johnny had been slipped a mickey and the students who met the chancellor's plane hit upon the politically incorrect excuse that Indians had kidnapped him in an effort to reclaim the property on which the university stood. True, this theory had been floated recently in an allegedly humorous column in the student newspaper, but then it was difficult to distinguish intended from unintended humor in that publication. "They got the idea from the log chapel incident." "Or the vandalism in Cedar Grove." "What if they're all connected?" "How?" The speaker had held up one hand as he spoke, but then immediately let it drop to the arm of his chair. In the faculty senate the Quinlan Resolution was being debated. If passed, it would become the sense of the senate that the administration should appoint a committee to meet with the Blue Cloud Nation in order to review with utmost seriousness their claim that ancestors had been bilked out of the land on which Notre Dame stood. "It doesn't matter," one phlegmatic senator observed. "There isn't a patch of earth that was not at one time inhabited by someone other than those currently inhabiting it." "These people weren't even alive at the time." "Their quarrel is with Sorin." "He's dead." "So are their ancestors." "It's a matter of justice." "You want to give the place back to the Indians?" "If they'll have it." "If it is theirs it would not be a gift." An observer from the Observer thought that the senate as a body was inclined to think that Notre Dame had been built on a foundation of injustice and crime. A video of the captive chancellor was delivered to Corby Hall. He looked disheveled and unfocused, but then he wasn't wearing his glasses. He seemed to be reciting when he spoke. "I have pledged to correct any injustice that has been done against the Blue Cloud Nation by the University of Notre Dame." His eyes lifted to the camera and filled with tears. His lower lip trembled. "I'm sorry," he said. "He didn't know what he was saying." "So what's new?" "He was just reading words written for him." "So what's new?" "You can't just wish away an institution that has been situated on this land for over a century and a half. What would the Indians do with the land?" "A casino?" "They'd sell it." "That's the answer! Give it back to them and then we buy it right back. If all they want is money . . ." This turned out not to be true. They wanted the land. They wanted the lakes. They wanted the woodland. They wanted their old burial ground back. "Where is it?" "It has yet to be located." Excerpted from The Book of Kills by Ralph McInerny All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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