Archive for 'McInerny, Ralph'
Seldom have I read a book as unwelcoming to readers as The Letter Killeth. The book is set at the University of Notre Dame and building, locations, school traditions, local organizations, etc., are mentioned but never explained or described in detail. One of the main characters is a professor in the Department of Catholic Studies and numerous authors and their works, as well as many Catholic historical figures, are mentioned fleetingly but, again, never described in detail. But worse than this is the lack of back story for all of the characters â€“ including the main ones. We are introduced to the characters as if this was a chapter in a book and not a stand alone novel. This is the first McInerny book I have read and I know almost nothing about the characters even after reading the book!
The entire book reads like an in joke â€“ but if you are on the outside, you donâ€™t really get it. Hereâ€™s one I did get from page 22 after Bill Fenster introduces himself to his professor:
â€œâ€¦When he first heard Billâ€™s name, he had said, â€œAh, window.â€
â€œJust donâ€™t defenestrate me.â€
â€œIâ€™ll spare you the pane.â€
Mary Alice hadnâ€™t followed that, but Bill explained it to her later. â€œIâ€™m surprised he didnâ€™t comment on your name.â€
For those of you who didnâ€™t follow this exchange, it is a play on the name Fenster and the word defenestrate, which means to throw someone out a window. And yes, that is the sum total of the joke and explanation â€“ if you didnâ€™t get it you are just out of luck. And the whole book is like that. If you are a well-read Catholic or went to Notre Dame, you might like this book. If not, donâ€™t even consider it.
Favorite character? Lucy Goessen â€“ we get four pages of description of her 20 pages from the end of the book, so I feel I know her best. Did I guess it? No. Will I read another? No. I would rather be defenestrated.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007