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The Bishop in the West Wing
By Andrew M. Greeley

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The Bishop in the West Wing

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The Bishop in the West Wing
A Blackie Ryan Story
By Andrew M. Greeley
Center Point Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 1-58547-280-8
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - August 10, 2003

The Bishop in the West Wing is a typical Blackie Ryan Story - which is to say that it is an excellent mystery. Written by Andrew M. Greeley, this story bits Bishop Blackwood Ryan against a wraith that appears to be haunting the White House. The new president, John Patrick McGurn, just happens to be a Roman Catholic, so when he thinks that his house is being haunted, he naturally turns to his church, to have the poltergeist exercised so that he can get down to the business of running the country. As Bishop Ryan soon discovers, there is more to this 'haunting' than a mere spirit.

Greeley's writing is witty and fast paced, and Ryan is an intelligent quick-witted detective. To get to the bottom of this mystery, the prelate will need all his wits about him. While Ryan accepts that their might be a ghost on the premises, he thinks it more likely that the haunting has a more earth-bound explanation.

If this is your first Father Ryan story, you are in for a treat. To get you up to speed, let me just say that Father Ryan can best be discribed as a Catholic version of the famous TV detective, Lieutenant Columbo. Ryan is, however, an amateur detective rather than a police officer, and being a priest, religion usually influences some aspect of Ryan's investigatory activities. Like Columbo, Ryan is a bit of a bumbler, and like Columbo, most people underestimate his abilities and his intelligence. In both cases the 'bad guys' routinely find that they have made a grave mistake in underestimating their adversary.

The Bishop in the West Wing was a fun novel to read. Throughout the story, Greeley is satirizing former president Bill Clinton, upon whom President McGurn appears to be modeled. (The book is dedicated to President William J. Clinton, i.e., Bill Clinton.) He also pokes fun at all the 'conspiracy theories' that seemed to permeate the Clinton presidency.

The story is suitably complicated by McGurn being accused of being a womanizer, an assassination attempt, a lovelorn woman, and, oh yeah, there is a little something about stopping a nuclear holocaust thrown in just to spice up the story. In short; this is a fast-paced and often funny mystery that only Father Ryan has the wherewithal to solve. Being set in the White House, this story does include a heavy dose of politics. This, however, just adds to the ambience of the story. The Bishop in the West Wing is a perfect light read for anyone seeking a little diversion. It is also a must read for fans of Father Ryan.


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