The Bishop Goes to the University (Blackie Ryan Series)

The Bishop Goes to the University (Blackie Ryan Series)

3.3 7
by Andrew M. Greeley, Nick Sullivan

View All Available Formats & Editions

The irrepressible Bishop Blackwood Ryan heads to The University on the south side of Chicago to investigate a baffling locked-room mystery. Someone has assassinated a Russian Orthodox monk in his office at the Divinity School—despite the fact that the door of his office was bolted shut from the inside. No killer was found within.

It turns out that the


The irrepressible Bishop Blackwood Ryan heads to The University on the south side of Chicago to investigate a baffling locked-room mystery. Someone has assassinated a Russian Orthodox monk in his office at the Divinity School—despite the fact that the door of his office was bolted shut from the inside. No killer was found within.

It turns out that the mystery of the locked room is simple compared to the international intrigue that swiftly develops around the case. Intelligence agents from diverse nations seem to be involved, as well as both the Sicilian and Russian mobs. Blackie soon finds himself the target of both threats and actual bullets as he seeks to unravel the deepening mystery surrounding the murdered monk—whose murky secrets may stretch all the way to the Vatican itself!

Murder is more than academic in yet another delightful whodunit by one of America’s most popular storytellers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In The Bishop Goes to University: A Blackie Ryan Story, by the reliably entertaining Andrew M. Greeley, Bishop Ryan looks into a Russian Orthodox monk's murder at the divinity school of the University on Chicago's South Side. A locked-room mystery quickly turns into a tale of spies and international intrigue. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More derring-do from Chicago’s coolest cleric, who solves a locked-room mystery, saves an imperiled cardinal, and socks it to the Vatican in his fourth adventure. "One cardinal ought to be enough for Chicago, ought he not, Blackwood?" Patently, yes. And since the speaker is his Eminent Lordship Sean, Cardinal Cronin, Blackie (The Bishop in the West Wing, 2002, etc.) understands he’s been given marching orders. So off he marches to Chicago’s south side and The University, where, in an office at the Divinity School, the extra cardinal is now posthumous, his head blown off by a shotgun blast. Though the setting for this sanguinary homicide is a sealed room, that’s not what truly wrinkles the bishop’s clever brow. Far knottier questions surround the who of cardinal two. Where did he come from? Why does his crimson garb appear to have been cut for a cardinal four inches taller? What makes his secret memoir so desperately sought a MacGuffin that clandestine agencies on both sides of the Atlantic will stop at nothing to get their hands on it? Nor is the Vatican itself an innocent bystander. Decently written and plotted, and if you can forgive the little bishop’s occasional smugness, you may be charmed.
From the Publisher

“Greeley pokes good-natured fun at the staid University of Chicago--an institution he has been associated with for years--as he interweaves both spiritual and educational topics into another supremely entertaining adventure.” —Booklist

“Father Greeley always succeeds at penning a fascinating tale, complete with ripe moments of humor and a touch of romance.” —Romantic Times

Product Details

Sound Library
Publication date:
Blackie Ryan Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Bishop Goes to the University

By Greeley, Andrew M.

Forge Books

Copyright © 2004 Greeley, Andrew M.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780765342348

"One cardinal ought to be enough for Chicago, ought he not, Blackwood?"
His Eminent Lordship Sean, Cardinal Priest of the Roman Church, Cronin towered over me, like a crimson watered silk alien from another planet. Cardinals who are tall (only a few) and handsome (even fewer) and with powerful presence (yet fewer still) can create that illusion. No one of this world would walk around in cardinalatial choir robes in daylight. He might, however, be a character from a Fellini movie or someone playing Richelieu in a theater of the absurd production from North Lincoln Avenue. In any event his hooded blue eyes were wide-open, his forehead furrowed in a deep frown, and his lips pressed together in either serious thought or suppressed anger.
"Arguably," I said, glancing up from my computer, "more than enough."
I had just returned from a bootless trip to Rome. A certain dicastry of the Roman Curia had wanted to consult with me on a problem. By which they meant they wanted to tell me what they thought and could not have cared less about what I thought. They were doing me a favor by talking to me.
"Yet we seem to have another."
"How unfortunate." I sighed in West of Ireland protest.
"He's dead."
Milord Cronin opened my liquor cabinet, removed from the back of it a precious container of Bushmills Single Malt and poured himselfconsiderably more than a splasheen in one of my recently cleaned Waterford tumblers.
"That would solve the problem, would it not?"
I turned away from my workstation. The Cardinal deposited a large stack of output on the floor and reclined on my couch. In full robes with a drink in hand (though it was only early afternoon on a radiant October day), he did look a little like the cinematic version of Armand-Jean de Plessis, duc de Richelieu--if one were to imagine that worthy to have been Irish.
"No, that creates the problem."
Aha, the harmless, indeed almost invisible little auxiliary bishop was about to be dispatched on a mystery-solving expedition.
"There are always a few kooks wandering around this city," he said, sipping cautiously from uisce beatha as the Irish were pleased to call the Creature. "This is good stuff, Blackwood," he interrupted his train of thought. "You think they will have it in heaven?"
"Minimally it and sex."
He sighed, not, however, as loudly as I can sigh.
"My own tailor makes crimson robes for them, though he doesn't want me to know about it. They're not really authentic, but parading down Thirty-first Street in what they think is full regalia gives them a kick, I guess."
"As do the several troubled folk who insist on donning papal white. It is, after all, a free city. From the point of view of those who are not of the household of the faith. We're all kooks."
On occasion I have had to persuade some such persons not to enter a ceremony at the Cathedral over which I preside at the Lord Cardinal's pleasure. They depart quietly with sad eyes when I tell them that their presence would greatly trouble Milord Cronin, which may be a touch of an exaggeration.
"This Russian fellow, however, left a full set of choir robes in his closet. They seem to be authentic..."
"Russian fellow?"
"That's right, you've been off in Rome, haven't you? This Semyon Ivanivich Popov who was killed in a locked office of the Divinity School at The University the other night."
In Chicago there are many universities. However, only one is identified as The University, mostly because of frequent repetition of the italicized word by its denizens.
He handed me a sheaf of clippings from Chicago papers.
"Interesting name..."
"He was Russian. They all have funny names."
"Simon, son of John, priest? Or if you wish, Simon bar Jona, Pope?"
"The cops tell me that the robes included a pallium. None of the crazies bother with that."
The pallium is a small decoration made of wool, which only archbishops can wear.
I glanced through the clippings.
"No mention of the sacred crimson in the press."
"Cops have kept it secret."
"Aha," I said, "does not his late Eminence look much like Grigori Yefimovich?"
"Who?" He looked up from his tumbler of Bushmills.
"The inestimable and legendary Rasputin."
Cardinal Popov was standing in front of the Divinity School in the flowing robes of Russian monasticism, complete with the hood that was propped up in front and added several inches to his already impressive height and his staff. With dark, flashing eyes, broad shoulders, a long gray beard, and the frown that is required in such pictures, he was a central-casting Russian monk. He must have created quite a stir at The University.
"He's dead, isn't he?"
"He was thrown into a freezing river in 1915, but there have been disputes about whether he survived and may still survive."
"This guy was teaching at the Divinity School out there, something about the Mystical Soteriology of the Old Believers. Whoever they might be...I suppose you are informed about the subject."
"One could summarize them by saying that they were fundamentalist Orthodox who went into schism over a new translation of the Bible. They were murdered in great numbers by various czars who didn't like dissidents of any sort...Have our mutual friends across the pond made any inquiries about Brother Semyon's death?"
Color that beard black and he would look like Rasputin. A man who lived over a hundred and forty years had the right to a white beard, did he not?
"Not a word. Finally, after a couple of days, I called them. Pretty high-level too. All I heard was what a fine scholar Brother Semyon was and what a tragedy his death was and how terrible the American crime rate was."
"They're hiding something?"
"Maybe. That's the way they would talk if they were. But then they may not know anything either...How come he's in all those departments? Does he collect salaries from all of them?"
I glanced at the text of the articles. Semyon Popov was a visiting professor in the Divinity School, the Slavic Languages Department, the Committee on Social Thought, the Center for International Studies, and the College.
"Only prestige. The more departments which list you, the more important you are."
"So he was pretty important?"
"More likely as a Russian monk he was pretty fashionable."
"Blackwood, what the hell goes on in that part of the world?"
"The Vatican or the University?"
"I mean out where Russia and Poland come together?"
"It's kind of like the Pecos River in Texas, where there's no law west of...Between the Vistula and the Volga there isn't much in the way of natural boundaries. So invaders have swept across those plains for a couple of thousand years--Goths, Huns, Teutons, Slavs, Wends, Magyars, Vikings, Mongols. A few of each group stayed there either on the way in or the way out. Maybe even a few Celts who headed west when the last ice age ended. The borders keep changing so at any given time, half the people are in a country they don't want to be in. There's lots of religions there too, four or five brands of Orthodoxy, a couple of Catholic Byzantine groups, and, of course, the Latin Rite Poles. It's borderland, a region of the world made to order for conspiracy and shenanigans."
As I lectured my eyes drifted briefly to the portraits of three Johns on the wall of my study, childhood heroes--the Pope, the president, and the quarterback. Now all three were dead, John Unitas being the last one to have gone home. O lente, lente currite noctis equi.
"We've had underground operations there, I presume?"
"Sure. Probably still do. Some of them as independent of Vatican control as were those Czech bishops who ordained women when the Iron Curtain was still working."
"And the various popes have appointed certain cardinals in petto--secret until they want to reveal it...Most of them one kind of Eastern European or another..."
"A nice touch," I admitted, "though hardly displaying the transparency that is supposed to be our hallmark these days."
He dismissed this cavil with a wave of his hand, the one with the ring, not the one holding my Bushmills.
"OK, Blackwood, let's say for the sake of the argument that Brother Semyon was in fact a Catholic bishop in the underground over there and that he did such a good job that they gave him the red hat in petto. Why would he travel around with choir robes if it were all a secret?"
"Or even possess them. One suspects that the FSB, née KGB, would find that disturbing...It says here that his head was blown off by a shotgun!"
Milord Cronin grimaced.
"Messy, but quick."
He drained his tumbler.
"How, then, did the vigilant Chicago police identify him?"
"It was his office, and his robes. Who else would it have been?"
He searched for a place to put the Waterford and finally set it on the top of my computer output.
"They thereupon sought confirmation from fingerprints or DNA?"
"His apartment was swept clean of all traces. There were plenty of fingerprints in his office, however. The Russians don't know who Brother Semyon is. Or was."
"If it were really him."
He rose from my couch with more alacrity than I could have managed.
"There is also the possibility," I added, "that he identified in some fashion with the Avignon crowd."
That stopped Milord dead in his tracks, just as he reached the door of my office.
I forebore from correcting him by saying "whom."
"It is said that there is a remnant of the Avignon papacy that still survives. Rejecting as they do the solution of the Council of Basle to the Great Western Schism, a few elderly French clerics gather together when their pope dies and elect a new pope, who promptly concedes jurisdiction to the false antipope in Rome for the good of the Church. He then appoints a few more elderly French clerics to choose his successor when that becomes necessary."
"That was five hundred years ago!"
"More like seven hundred!"
"Why would they bother?"
"You know the French..."
He turned in the doorway and scowled.
"I don't like any of it at all, Blackwood. One pope is enough. So is one cardinal--unless they make you one as a punishment for your South Side Irish prejudices. I can't have itinerant cardinals wandering around Chicago posing as Russian monks. Or vice versa. Or French popes, or whatever. I want this mess straightened out...See to it, Blackwood!"
Thereupon he disappeared down the corridor with much the same éclat as the Superchief when it used to leave Chicago on the rails to storied La La Land.
Copyright 2003 by Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.


Excerpted from The Bishop Goes to the University by Greeley, Andrew M. Copyright © 2004 by Greeley, Andrew M.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, "The Church in Society," at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.

Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.

Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Bishop Goes to the University (Blackie Ryan Series) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Rubyred25 More than 1 year ago
I've read many Bishop Blackie books but this one didn't seem logical so it wasn't as enjoyable as some of the series in the past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Milord Cronin needs someone to solve a locked room mystery, he knows he can count on Bishop Blackie to see to things. Therefore, when a Russian Orthodox monk is killed in a locked room in the University, Blackie is sent to take care of things. Before long, he finds himself in the middle of a worldwide investigation, dodging bullets from the Russian mafia, and dealing with a woman whose mind is mired in sixties mode of militant feminism. If Blackie can live through this one, Cardinal Cronin is going to owe him at least a bottle of Jamison's. **** Father Blackie's irrespressible humor alone makes any book in which he stars worthwhile. While some have been critical of the extensive discussion of church history and the differences between Orodox and Catholic branches of the church, I found it to be a fascinating and educational aspect to the story. As always, Father Greeley adds a slight twist that keeps the case from being too simple and manages to interweave a homily into the master plot. ****
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cardinal Sean Cronin sends Bishop Blackwood Ryan to investigate the locked door murder of Russian Brother Semyon Ivanivich Popov. The Cardinal is more concerned with the wardrobe the police found at the crime scene than who killed this instructor at the University. Apparently Brother Semyon had garbs that are only given to archbishops and cardinals and His Eminent Lordship Cronin sarcastically believes that Chicago does not need two cardinals.

Blackie visits the Divinity School and learns that when Brother Semyon was shot in his locked office only four other people, all professors, were in the building at the time. He questions the foursome to see what he can learn. However, instead of a simple homicide case, the espionage community, Russian and Italian mobsters, and the Vatican are tripping over one another doing their own inquiries. Blackie is warned off the case with bullets to emphasize the advice. If he fails to heed this expert advice, he will see his maker a lot sooner than he expected.

THE BISHOP GOES TO UNIVERSITY is an entertaining modern day Catholic Church who-done-it that quickly spins into a cloak and dagger thriller. The story line moves forward rather quickly even when Andrew Greeley deftly makes a left turn. The support cast is solid as each key participant enhances either the understanding of aspects of the Church or insight into Blackie, whose pride in his perfect crime solving record comes across a bit arrogant, making him humanly falling into one of the seven deadly sins. Readers will appreciate this well written Bishop Blackie tale.

Harriet Klausner