The Baritone Wore Chiffon , by Mark Schweizer, is the second novel in Schweizer’s Liturgical Mystery Series. Hayden Konig is trying to write his new masterpiece of fiction, a la Raymond Chandler. Those familiar with the serials of the 40′s and 50′s will recall that Chandler wrote such famous works as The Big Easy and The Long Goodbye.
Konig, however, is nowhere near the literary master Chandler is. As an example of his poor ability to create perfect prose, let me give you the first sentence of his new work, “It was a dark and stormy night; dark, because the sun had just set like a flaming hen squatting upon her unkempt nest that was the gritty urban streets; stormy, because the weather had rolled in like an angry fat man driving his Rascal into a Ryan’s Steak House and then finding out that the “all you can eat” dessert bar had an out-of-order frozen yogurt machine.” Ouch!
Luckily for his readers, Schweizer is infinitely better at writing books.
After a phone call from a friend, Konig is off to York, England, to be a witness in the course of a murder investigation. A person has been killed and a diamond stolen. Because the unfortunate victim was an American, there is thought that a representative from the police department in an American city would be helpful. The Minster police are none too pleased with the idea, but they agree to it.
Konig figures out that the diamond was actually switched with a fake, and that the victim had something to do with it. He leaves the English cops to make more connections, and flies home.
Back in St. Germaine, located in the North Carolina mountains, Konig returns to more problems. He has another murder to deal with, and the former female priest of Konig’s church has left due to a couple of major transgressions. St. Barnabas has a temporary replacement priest until a permanent one can be found.
Since Konig is the part-time choirmaster, the events which follow are of particular concern. One rather problematic event concerns a donkey whose asparagus and four chili enchiladas cause him a good deal of gastric distress. The timing could not be worse, since the occasion is Palm Sunday and the donkey is being ridden by the new priest.
If readers can stop laughing long enough to actually finish this book, they will find a delightful novel to share among friends.