Cover image for Emerald Aisle
Emerald Aisle
McInerny, Ralph, 1929-2010.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001.
Physical Description:
225 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Notre Dame mystery."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



Heavyweight Notre Dame professor Roger Knight and his p.i. brother Philip investigate a baffling puzzle when some extremely rare literary documents go missing in the fifth installment of this smart academic mystery series. Complicating matters for the brothers are the impending nuptials of some dear friends, Larry Morton and Nancy Beatty, which hit a snag. When Larry was an undergraduate at Notre Dame he made a prudent but overly optimistic reservation to marry his freshman sweetheart, Dolores Torre, in the popular campus rectory six years in the distant future. Their relationship didn't last, and now Larry wants to use the reservation to marry Nancy. Unfortunately, his old girlfriend Dolores has a similar plan.

When both Larry and Dolores try to claim the forgotten reservation on the appointed date for their very separate marriages, pandemonium ensues. Dolores's new fiance, Dudley, is a man with a troubling secret past that may come back to haunt all of them. When a woman winds up strangled to death, both weddings are suddenly on hold until everyone can figure out what's going on. What is Dudley's connection with the missing documents, and how could such a white-collar, academic crime lead to a grisly murder? Between the two of them, Roger and Phil Knight can handle many tough questions-but this particular puzzle is bound to prove quite a challenge in this intelligent, witty mystery from one of the genre's masters.

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

Booklist Review

Best known for his popular Father Dowling novels, the prolific McInerny also writes the charming Andrew Broom series and the Notre Dame mysteries, of which this one is the fifth. Featuring the corpulent academic Roger Knight and his private-investigator brother, Philip, the series revolves around the Notre Dame campus and its often eccentric denizens (McInerny has been a professor there for many years). This time two students, Larry and Dolores, reserve the campus' popular Basilica of the Sacred Heart for their wedding, set to take place in six years. When the time comes, both claim the reservation but for weddings to different people. This puts in motion a story of ingenious intrigue involving the murder of Dolores' finance's mistress and the theft of some Cardinal Newman papers from the victim's collector-husband. Philip is hired to investigate, and Roger, of course, is on hand to assist. This series has its own distinctive voice, featuring decidedly episodic chapters and frequent changes of voice, but it shares one characteristic with most of McInerny's work: it's thoroughly entertaining. --Stuart Miller



  PART ONE 1 THERE WAS A BUMPER STICKER Roger Knight saw around the campus on game days when fans flowed in from across the land. GOD MADE NOTRE DAME #1. The claim was theologically impeccable so long as one had in mind the Lady after whom the university was named and not the university itself, still less one of the varsity teams. A statue of the eponymous Notre Dame graced the golden dome, a huge effigy visible for miles around, the emblem of the university named for her: Notre Dame du Lac, to be exact, Our Lady of the Lake. Or rather to be inexact, since there were two campus lakes, Saint Joseph's and Saint Mary's. But if the great golden dome and the statue of the Virgin atop it were visible from the ground, they were even more so from the air. Flights coming into South Bend followed a landing pattern that brought them in low over the campus, and pilots liked to give their passengers an extended view. "There she is, folks, Notre Dame." Thus spoke the pilot of the commuter plane Roger and his brother, Phil, were flying in on from Chicago, propeller driven, cramped, a notch or two above a hang glider. Roger was wedged into two seats, the armrest between them raised, with Phil across the aisle. The little plane had headed immediately out over Lake Michigan when it took off from O'Hare and had stayed over the great lake until a few minutes before entering the pattern that took it over the campus. "That's the stadium!" cried the pilot, and those with window seats dutifully pressed their noses against the glass and looked. "And that's the golden dome. See that statue on top of it? That's Knute Rockne, the famous football coach." Roger looked at Phil. "He can't be serious, Roger." But apparently he was serious. Perhaps he thought the statue was of Rockne in academic garb. The pilot would not be the first one to mistake the athletic excellence of the university for its central purpose. This year God had indeed made Notre Dame #1 in both senses. Its academic ranking had risen into the top ten, a fact featured on the home page of the university web site, to the chagrin of senior faculty computer literate enough to have noticed it. "What in hell is U.S. News & World Report? " "A lesser TIME. " "What is time?" "The measure of motion," broke in a philosopher, and cackled. Apart from the questionable legitimacy of such academic ranking, the varsity teams had excelled in every sport. The football team, after half a dozen years of drought, had ended its season playing for the national championship. Alas, they lost, but loyal fans attributed this to the outrageous officiating. Whatever wounds the loss inflicted were soon healed by the performance of the basketball teams, women's and men's, both of which were said to be headed for the Final Four. Even hockey, that poor brother of the Joyce Athletic Center, had swept its divisional play-offs, but this success melted away before the ascendancy of the basketball teams. The two aspects of the university were loved unequally by the Knight brothers. When Roger had been offered the Huneker Chair of Catholic Studies, he had been flattered and delighted. He had not taught after receiving his doctorate from Princeton as a precocious nineteen year old. His enormous weight and eccentric manner had stood in the way of an academic career, and after a stint in the navy, where he ballooned to a size that earned him an early discharge, he lived with Phil and eventually became, like him, a private detective. They had been working out of Rye, New York, whither they had moved after Phil had been mugged in Manhattan for the third time. That one whose investigative services were his bread and butter should himself be unsafe on the streets of the metropolis did not seem a good marketing line. From Rye, Phil began to run an ad in the phone directories of various major cities, giving only an 800 number and accepting only those clients who offered a particular challenge and one that did not pose too great a difficulty for Roger's participation. Their's had been a pleasant life, active and lucrative enough for their purposes, and allowing Roger to pursue his myriad intellectual interests and carry on an enormous E-mail correspondence with kindred souls around the globe. The offer from Notre Dame, a welcome and unlooked for surprise, had meant the end of their life in Rye. "Of course you'll take it," Philip had cried. "But the agency?" "I can work from anywhere, Roger. Clients don't know we live in Rye unless we tell them. South Bend might be even more convenient." Roger was not deceived. Phil lifted the notion of sports fan to hitherto unknown heights, and he had long followed the fortunes of Notre Dame with a close and biased eye. Moving to South Bend ranked for Phil just below the beatific vision. His enthusiasm removed Roger's hesitation. Roger himself had looked forward to the library and the stimulation of his new colleagues, to say nothing of the prospect of teaching. And so they had come to Notre Dame. The few years of their residence had rooted them in the university to such a degree that it took an effort of memory to think of a time before this. Their flight from Chicago touched down, and the passengers straggled into the terminal. Roger took up his vigil by the baggage carousel, while Phil went to fetch the van from long-term parking. The vehicle had been remodeled so as to accommodate Roger's bulk. A rotating chair in the middle of the van, behind Phil in the driver's seat, enabled Roger to maneuver like a swivel gunner in World War II. A laptop was anchored to a table and thus out of use when he turned to the back, but he could easily swing east and west and then forward to chat with Phil. But on the ride from the airport this day, both brothers were quiet. "I want a nap," Phil murmured. "You deserve it." Joseph Primero, a prospective client in Minneapolis, whose collection of rare books was destined for Notre Dame, had wanted to interview Philip, and vice versa, and Roger had gone along in order to see Primero's collection. For the nonce, he too could use some rest. But when they pulled up in front of their apartment, located in one of the buildings making up the graduate student village, a horn sounded and Nancy Beatty hopped out of her car and hurried toward them. "Where have you two been! I was so worried about you." Phil looked at Roger. "We've been away." "That explains why your phone wasn't answered. It just rang and rang with no beep to leave a message. Larry wouldn't let me call Campus Security." It was a pleasant thought that their absence had caused such concern. It was still a novelty for the Knight brothers to have people who worried about them. "Where's Larry?" Her eyes rolled upward. "Studying." "Would you like to come in?" She thought about it, then shook her head. "No. You're tired. But after this, let someone know when you're going away. Where have you been?" "Minneapolis." "Can I help with those?" Phil had begun to unload their bags from the van. The thought of this frail girl helping him with the luggage brought a frown. "It was just a thought." She paused. "I do have something to tell you." "Come on in." Again she shook her head. "Not now. I want Larry with me when I tell you." "Can I guess?" "Don't you dare." EMERALD AISLE. Copyright (c) 2001 by Ralph McInerny. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010. Excerpted from Emerald Aisle 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.