The Tenor Wore Tapshoes: A Liturgical Mystery by Mark Schweizer is the third installment of the delightful series starring Hayden Konig – who is not only the police chief of St. Germaine, a small town located in the hills of North Carolina, but also the part-time Episcopal choirmaster at St. Barnabas Church.
Once again, Konig has taken up writing one of his dreadful stories in the style of Raymond Chandler, the renowned author of the Philip Marlowe tales. As the book opens, Konig has been written up in a newspaper article both as a topic of interest and as a focus of speculation.
A while back, Konig purchased a typewriter, much like the one Chandler was known for using. No electronic magic here, just some keys that require pushing to get on the page and a clattering mechanism that holds the paper on which prose comes to life. You know the one, it makes a distinctive noise, leaving no doubt of the source.
As to the speculation, Konig is presumed to be channeling the spirit of Raymond Chandler when he writes, albeit badly. This is a matter of some notoriety, since most people outside St. Germaine did not know of Konig’s efforts at creating the next great American novel.
When asked to get rid of a rat in the St. Barnabas pantry, Konig happily complies by getting his gun from under the piano bench. Don’t worry, Schweizer is kind enough to spare readers from both the dirty little details and finding rat parts in the Wednesday Night Supper. Although with JJ as the kitchen queen, congregants of St. Barnabas might be served squirrel’s head soup.
However, yet another body is found in the church. Long since dead, the man lies in the nave ready for Konig and his two deputies, Dave and Nancy, to figure out whodunit.
On the church side of things, the vestry is getting ready to change over. From what I could tell, not being Episcopalian myself, this is equivalent to the governing body. Think of it as the Board of Trustees for religious purposes. While there is not a new priest, one is scheduled to start the interview process the week after Easter.
Several newcomers to the series make an appearance in this book. Brother Hogmany McTavish has set up his tent in town for several weeks of revival meetings. With him is his Scripture Chicken, Binny Hen, who is kind enough to pick out the sermon passages read each meeting night.
Pete Moss, the owner of The Slab Café who does double duty as Mayor, has a new waitress named Noylene. She makes a memorable first appearance by accidentally spilling coffee into Deputy Dave’s lap. Some of the best passages in this book come out of her mouth and have to do with religion. Hearing her describe how one could be “revirginated” is something to smile over!
Noylene’s nephew, D’Artagnan Fabrege, is a PI who comes in to help find “The Immaculate Confection”, a cinnamon bun in which the face of the Virgin Mary has been spotted.
Last but not least, Rob Brannon has come back to his hometown where his family has darkened the pews of St. Barnabas for generations. His slick style, however, does not fool Hayden Konig for a minute. He immediately suspects a rat is in the building.
Buy this book and you’ll want to read the next one in this fun series!