Sham Rock

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The University of Notre Dame relies on Roger Knight, the rotund professor of Catholic Studies, and his brother Philip, a semiretired PI, to investigate certain delicate situations that could put the school in a bad light. Students, faculty, and alumni, like David Williams, are all fair game.

Having been a successful financial adviser until recently, David has returned to campus to renege on a pledged donation to the university’s ethics ...

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Sham Rock

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Overview

The University of Notre Dame relies on Roger Knight, the rotund professor of Catholic Studies, and his brother Philip, a semiretired PI, to investigate certain delicate situations that could put the school in a bad light. Students, faculty, and alumni, like David Williams, are all fair game.

Having been a successful financial adviser until recently, David has returned to campus to renege on a pledged donation to the university’s ethics program. While he’s there, one of his former classmates sends a letter confessing to the murder and a secret burial of one of their closest friends, a student who had gone missing decades before and was never found. As students, David, Patrick, and Timothy made up the “Trinity,” an irreverent nickname for three close friends and fierce rivals—-be it for on-campus prestige or the affections of a beautiful St. Mary’s student from across the road.

Ready to help the school put the whole sordid tragedy behind them, Roger and Philip set about the sad task of unearthing Timothy’s body, only to find that they have a much bigger mystery with which to contend.

With rivalries rekindled and the brothers Knight digging into the university’s past, Sham Rock, the latest in Ralph McInerny’s well-loved mystery series, is as witty and charming as ever

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Knight brothers Roger, a professor, and Philip, a semiretired PI, look into a decades-old disappearance in McInerney's absorbing 13th Notre Dame mystery (after 2008's The Green Revolution). With the economy in a downward slide, financial adviser David Williams, class of '89, returns to his alma mater to renege on his generous offer to fund a new building and to visit his son, who's a Notre Dame junior. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's associate archivist receives an unusual donation from a priest alumnus—a box containing newspaper clippings, a short story, and other items related to a classmate and close friend of David's, Timothy Quinn, who went missing 20 years earlier and has long since been presumed dead. Roger and Philip delve into the past to find out what happened to Timothy and how his loss affected a small, tight-knit group of college friends. Fans of light whodunits will like this one. Sadly, McInerney died January 29, 2010. (Apr.)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

RALPH McINERNY is the author of more than fifty books, including the popular Father Dowling series, and has taught for over fifty years at the University of Notre Dame, where he is the director of the Jacques Maritain Center. He has been awarded the Bouchercon Lifetime Achievement Award and appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.

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Read an Excerpt

FROM AN AISLE SEAT ON THE LEFT side of the plane, David Williams had an imperfect vision of the campus as they descended toward the South Bend airport. The lady in the window seat pressed her face to the glass, all but obscuring his view. No matter. He sat back with a wry smile, remembering all the times he had come along this .ight path in his own plane, always taking the controls for the landing once he had feasted his eyes on the Notre Dame campus. He felt like a Ro­man general who had fought one too many campaigns. There would be no triumphal welcome this time. Only a memento mori.
The plane touched down; there was the roar of reversed engines as they decelerated along the runway. He had a glimpse of the tower across from the terminal and of a few private craft anchored to the runway. That was where he had always directed his own plane after landing, off among the elite, not like the rest of men. Another bead on the rosary of his personal sorrowful mysteries.
When the plane reached the terminal and drew to a stop, there was a long delay while the unchecked bags were removed and ar­rayed so that passengers could grab them as they headed inside. Meanwhile they stood with bowed heads in the aisle for ten minutes, impatiently looking ahead to see when movement would begin. All the aggravation of commercial .ights would be familiar to him from now on, at least until . . . Hope . ared, then died.
Inside the terminal, past seats .lled with people waiting to . y out, he went with the others through the revolving doors and up the graded walkway to the baggage carousel. Expectant faces awaited the arrivals, and soon, all around him, there were reunions, pas­sengersbeing greeted, the babble of happiness. Fifteen minutes went by before a light .ashed and the belt began to move. He did not join the jostling group gathered to watch for their baggage. Now that he was here, he was in no hurry, no hurry at all.
When he had his bag, having watched it go round twice until it was the only one unclaimed, he rolled it to the rental counter to get a car. The clerk was a woman no longer young on whom incompe­tence sat like a lifelong curse. Her name tag read GLORIA. She drew her lower lip between her teeth as she sought his name on her computer, her expression doubtful.
“Williams?”
“Williams.” He half expected her to ask him to spell it.
When she found it, she glowed as if she had won the lottery. Meanwhile Dave, looking beyond her, could see the envelope with his name written on it with a felt-tip pen—but of course there were papers to sign.
He handed her a credit card, and she scanned it; her expression once more gave way to doubt. Gloria frowned and chewed on her lip. Her eyes when she looked at him were wide with confusion.
“It doesn’t go through.” “Try this one.” He slid another across the counter, and she traded for it with some reluctance. The second card was accepted, thank God. He had started to feel a sudden kinship with the clerk. While Gloria had trouble printing out the forms, he leaned against the counter and looked down the curved line of the terminal.
Nothing was familiar to him here. When was the last time he had . own into South Bend on a commercial .ight? It was not a question he cared to dwell on since it called up the golden interval since that was no more.
He signed and initialed the forms which, in another lucky win, Gloria had produced.“Thank you,” he said when, at last, he had the envelope with his key in it.
“No problem.” A relieved smile. There were no other customers to disturb the even tenor of her ways. A large paperback with a multi­colored cover lay open next to her computer like a downed bird. He made out the author’s name in electric blue. Casey Winthrop!
“How do you like it?”
Gloria pursed her lips and wagged her head. “It’s a living.”
“I meant the book.”
“If I didn’t read I’d go crazy.”
“I know the feeling.”
But any rapport he had established was gone. Gloria had taken the mention of her book as an accusation. Guilt is everywhere.
He found his car, got in, and sat for a moment smelling its newness. When he turned the ignition key he saw there were less than a thou­sand miles on the odometer. What was the average lifetime of a car as a rental? Ah well, cars, like everything else, are temporary.
The road he drove along after exiting the airport suggested a city in decay; large, once desirable houses had been converted into in­surance agencies, doctors’ of.ces, a palm reader. He passed a store­front with a huge sign announcing that checks were cashed there. It seemed to be a pawnshop as well.
The downtown area was a slight improvement. He crossed the St. Joseph River and after several blocks turned north, headed for campus.
The avenue that led to campus was now lined with newly con­structed houses, designed to look older than they were, the univer­s ity’s effort to reclaim the area by building homes for faculty at attractive prices.
He was caught by the stop sign at Angela Boulevard. Already he could see ahead the great mass of the Main Building and the golden dome on which Our Lady looked ever southward. The sight stirred him, as it always did, as it stirred all alumni, as if they had spent four years staring up at the patroness of Notre Dame.
The guard at the gate gave him a wary welcoming smile when he failed to see a sticker on the window.
“Visitor?”
“I have an appointment with the vice president.” He adopted a reassuring smile. “Class of ’89.”
Did the guard think he meant the vice president? The delay was pro forma; Williams was given a pass.
“Put that in your window.”
The bar lifted, and Williams, saluting, moved forward, onto the campus, past Cedar Grove Cemetery on his left with ahead the nine holes of Burke Golf Course that had not yet been claimed for new buildings. Despite the anguish of the past months, despite the rea­son for his coming, David Williams had the odd sense that he had come home.

Excerpted from Sham Rock by Ralph McInerny.
Copyright © 2010 by Ralph McInerny.
Published in April 2010 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
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(21)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A strong Fighting Irish academic mystery

    Because of the recession, financial adviser David Williams returns to his ala mater Notre Dame to visits his son attending classes there and to inform the university's administration he cannot afford to finance a new building as he promised. As David visits, another alumnus sends to the school's associate archivist a box filled with newspaper clippings and various other sundry including the confession of a murder and burial of the victim, another student from the class of 89 Timothy Quinn, who had vanished two decades ago.

    The school leadership, having used retired private investigator Philip Knight to work sensitive cases before, asks him to look into the Quinn situation. With the help of his brother Catholic Studies Professor Roger Knight Philip begins his inquiry starting with a look back to 1989 when the "Trinity" of David, Timothy and Patrick were rivals and buddies. Upon digging up the corpse, the siblings realize the case is much more convoluted than they expected.

    The latest Knight brothers Notre Dame investigative tale (see The Green Revolution) is one of the better entries in what is a fun lighthearted private detective series. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the archivist opens the box and never slows down as Philip with Roger assisting him begins the inquiry into what happened in 1989 only to find a much bigger case on their hands. Ralph McInerny, who died in January, provides a strong Fighting Irish academic mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    a beautiful shecat with stars in her pelt

    a beautiful shecat with stars in her pelt pads in ( hello raintalon dont worry your kit is safe i am silvernight satrclan has sent me to tell your clan that evil will come for this clan but it will not happen soon you must trust all the cats you can and tell darkstar stormstar is very pleased with how she is running things ) she gives her former clanmate a warm smile then dissapears into the night

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    darkfang

    darkfang :what in starclans name is going on here oh i know your an imposter( she smiles and races out )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Blank

    Kills herself

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Skyheart

    Name: Skyheart Age: about 14 moons Mate: Brambletalon Kit(s): Mothpaw Personality: loving, strong, couragious History: was born somewhere in the wild, mother abandoned her, fended for herself until she met Brambletalon and joined Serpantclan. Other: wishes to become deputy. Will serve her clan until she joins Starclan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Duskbreeze

    Looks arond whats going on wheres the REAL Talonpaw?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    blackfang

    blackfang to raintalon ( she pads in and gives her a bundle of herbs ) now these will help you milk come in it will make you a little sleepy but your milk should come in soon( she smiles then pads out of the den ) come get me if it doesnt come in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    darkfang

    darkfang runs in stright to envy with her face coverd in tears ( e.....e.n........envy ) she presses her head in envys fur ( i found silvernight ) she starts to cry again ( she was killed when i found her she had no head th.....there was so much blood )she slips to the floor and crys into her paws

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    envy

    envy fine ( he looks at his paws and lays down ) why would pride make me fight my own kit not to mention the other sins has he gone nuts

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    envy

    envy looks at him ( i noticed ) he got up ( well i geuss i have to go fight my kit ) he looks down and pads off

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    envy

    envy thats not her at least not the one who tryed to kill my mate i can tell shes diffrent but hey its not my chose to let her in hey im not even in this clan)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    darkpaw

    darkpaw runs in and stops in between them ( sorry but pride told greed my new mentor to tell me to make sure you too dont fight he said it was for the best) she then looks to envy ( look at what greed taught me ) she crouches and steel armor forms around her intire body ( it hide my beautiy thats what greed say but i kinda like it he says it always hide our dasling good looks ( she smiles then runs out to greed)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    envy

    envy growls to him self ( no im not fighting you pride told me no and im under his order if i disobey him i will regret it so i will not ) he looks to tigerpaw ( tell pride we did not fight please since your training with him today) he transform back into a cat and pads out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    envy

    envy chuckles ( they dont call me the ultamite shape for nothing ) light grows around him like lightining and when the dust clears it revles a black jaguar ( you see each sin has a specail talent i can shape shift lust it the ultiamte spear meaning her claws can cut through anything ,greed is the ultimate sheald meaning he grows an armor that can never be broken thats why we are so dangeriouse now if you still want to fight then ill make it equal and shape shift into a blacktiger ( he smirks)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    envy

    envy looks at him( sorry there buddy but when the sin train we use claws and i might unknowingly unsheath my claws and hurt you i wouldent want to do that now would i )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    envy

    envy narrows his eyes ( even if i did fight you its not like it would be a chalange its not like you the same level as pride )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    envy to nettlewhisker

    envy to nettlewhisker i know you didnt know about dovepaw but now wasent the time to ask about her silvernight has been having nightmare about dovepaw and blackfang she barely gets any sleep ) he says as he pads up behind his brother wrath ( and wrath go help greed he broke his armor and is in alot of pain ) he looks over his shoulder at nettlewhisker then pads out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    envy ( dovepaw is dead she was killed and brought back to silver

    envy ( dovepaw is dead she was killed and brought back to silvernight and im not going pride ,greed,wrath and glutteny are going i dont want to get killed by her (he pads off to his kits)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    envy : go to your camp and look at silvernights post

    envy : go to your camp and look at silvernights post

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    wrath

    wrath perks his ears and sniffs the air ( all of you stay in the nursery ) he sniffs again( she hear she must be really brave to come back ) wrath looks to the queens (do not let any of your kit go out of the nursery)

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