Book review: The Green Revolution

It came as a bit of a surprise that there’s an entire series of mystery novels set at the University of Notre Dame.  It came as a great surprise that these novels were written by a long-serving member of the Notre Dame faculty.  The Green Revolution is the 12th Notre Dame mystery novel written by Ralph McInerny, and one of over forty mystery novels he has printed.  As a loyal Boilermaker, I found the basis of this novel to be most pleasing.  The Green Revolution takes place during the 2007 football season, one in which Notre Dame did not have net positive rushing yards until the third game of the season.  As the season progresses, more and more Notre Dame fans begin calling for the ouster of the football coach, and some faculty move to end the football program entirely.

The apparent murder of one of the coach’s harshest critics is the purported theme of the book, but McInerny seems to spend a good portion of the novel discussing Notre Dame for Notre Dame’s sake.  Certainly there are some references that would only be understood by persons more familiar with the institution than I.  As a mystery novel, though, it works quite well.  The identity of the killer remained unknown to me until the very end, but looking back, it all made sense.  The writing style was enjoyable, even when the references were beyond me.  No doubt I will pick up another McInerny book the next time I’m  in the mood for a mystery.

Book review: The Last Match

In an attempt to have actual content, I’ve decided to do the occasional book review.  The books are whatever I’ve read recently, likely from the public library.  The first installment is David Dodge’s alleged thriller The Last Match.  Dodge is best known for his novel To Catch a Thief, which became a rather successful film by Alfred Hitchcock (you may have heard of him).  Set in the late 1950s, written in the early 1970s, and published in 2006, the story is as diverse geographically as it is chronologically.  Unfortunately for the reader, the plot also lacks cohesion.

Quoth Dodge’s daughter in the afterword:

…he wrote The Last Match out of his head, skimming through the memories of a lifetime, combining fact and fiction, real-life personalities and invented characters, landscapes and lovers and lifestyles to his heart’s content.

It is not clear to me if Dodge intended this work to be published, or not, but it does seem to be written for his own sake, as his daughter’s words suggest.  The individual sections of the plot are often quite disconnected from each other, to the point where they could have been re-written with little effort as independent short stories.  Indeed, one of my biggest problems with this book is the fact that I spent the first two-thirds distracted by the wait for the plot to become apparent.  It might have been a more enjoyable read had I known from the beginning to expect the chapters to be only loosely bound.

The library categorizes this story as a mystery, but there is little mystery involved. The cover lead my wife to immediately identify it as a romance novel, but it lacks the thinly-veiled sexual descriptions common to that genre.  The amount of crime and pursuit certainly qualify it as a thriller, although I found it to be not-so-thrilling.  I selected the book somewhat arbitrarily from the shelf at the library, and will willingly admit that I probably did not wind up with the best possible book.  I’m certainly open to reading another David Dodge novel, but I cannot recommend The Last Match.