Friday, February 6

The Archbishop in Andalusia

So, I read The Archbishop in Andalusia by Andrew Greeley, the latest in Greeley's mystery series featuring Archbishop Blackie Ryan. I would say that if you have enjoyed the Blackie series before, you will probably enjoy this one, too. If you haven't ...

Here's the thing: they aren't really typical mysteries, so they might not appeal to everyone. I enjoy them because I like Blackie's character and some of the secondary characters that inhabit his world. But the stories are very much about the characters and their relationships, and a little less about the plot, so the appeal may not be universal.

Things I liked about this book:

Blackie's character. He's just likeable, an engaging philosopher who has no problem poking a little fun at himself.

More background on Cardinal Cronin* and how he and Blackie first met. Things about Cronin that were hinted at in past books were a lot more fleshed out here, so that was fun.

Some interesting stuff on the history of Spain. I guess it could be considered infodump, but that doesn't bother me because I enjoy learning something new; and if infodump is done correctly, it can do a lot to lend atmosphere to a story. The book takes place largely in Spain, and the background on the country provides perspective on the culture of the people, so the history stuff was useful.

Things I didn't care for:

One of the central characters, and the one who's situation Blackie has been charged with fixing, is less than sympathetic. She's supposed to be this strong, admirable woman, beloved by all of Seville, but I thought she was rather wishy-washy. Confident in business situations, she's a complete hand-wringer when it comes to her personal life. Possibly the ensuing angst is a cultural thing, but I found myself thinking "do it or don't do it, but make up your mind and get it over with." That said, it's entirely a personal opinion and may well be the kind of drama other people enjoy.

Some of the secondary characters were a bit flat. While Greeley can be very good with some characters, I found Blackie's nephew and his fiance to be lacking in personality altogether. They were in the last book, too, and in fact met during the course of that book. But in this one, they were just there being such garshed darn nice young Americans that they made white bread look exciting. Also, their presence didn't seem to serve any purpose and wasn't, to my mind, adequately explained. Blackie could have been conversing with a brick wall in some of the scenes, and at least the wall would have lent texture.

Overall, the book was a pleasant read. I wouldn't rush out and recommend it everyone I meet, but I didn't throw it against the wall either.

*In case you decide to read it and start worrying, let me just say now that it does have a happy ending.


Merry said...

I can't say I've enjoyed the Blackie series.
I can say I've never read any of the books in the series.
The only work of Greeley's that I've read was a memoir.

Would this book be a good one for a series virgin to start with?

ousto - I was enjoying the party with gusto but then they kicked me ousto.

Merry said...

Note to self: caffeine first, commenting second.
Meant to say I've never read any book in the series.
Or maybe I meant to say I can't say I've ever read any book in the series.
Or maybe I meant to combine the two phrases into one in a desperate cry for attention. Or a cry for caffeine.
Something like that.

benfac - a coffee giver would be my benfac right now...

McB said...

If you've never read ANY book in the series, you don't necessarily have to start at the beginning. However, most of the earlier ones are probably better bets. The Bishop In The Old Neighborhood might be a good one.

defugh: hopefully the caffeine helped defugh your brain.