Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Looking for the perfect book for a church-going friend? Hopefully one with a sense of humor?

Look no further than Mark Schweizer's liturgical mysteries series. Mark's 'primary' job is to run St. James Music Press. If you need a special anthem for your church -- Mark's got one just for you. And since the printing press is setting around, he publishes his own books.

Yes, he 'self-publishes' but then again he IS a publisher!

Anyway, back to the books. The titles alone tell you what kind of unbalanced half-wit, I mean funny man, the author is. First of the series: The Alto Wore Tweed, followed by The Baritone Wore Chiffon. Third in the series: The Tenor Wore Tap Shoes. Oh and one of my favorites: The Soprano Wore Falsettos. The Bass Wore Scales and The Mezzo Wore Mink rounds out the series.

The series features choir director (and the small town's lawman) Hayden Konig. He's a Raymond Chandler wannabe and part of the fun of the series is the main character's attempts to write a mystery. In addition to that the first book has the most hilarious set up for a death that I have ever ever ever read.

Maybe it is my perverse sense of humor but what kind of mind puts together blow-up sex dolls, a guy in a sheet, and a woman leaping from the sun roof of a speeding car -- and Christian beliefs? I don't know that I've ever laughed that hard at any book, let alone a mystery.

Yet beneath all of the hype and hilarity are characters (well, some of them) with a good heart, alot of truth about small town life, and a decently told mystery to unravel. Even some insight into the female gender. "The sniffling stopped almost immediately and I, once again, had to admire the female gender's ability to regulate the flow of tears in direct proportion to their chances of receiving a traffic summons."

What I like though, is the way the scene does not stop there, nor does the set-up. Suddenly the hapless female with the lead foot turns and asks, "Are you Hayden?" She sniffed, wiping the remaining tear from her cheek and catching me totally by surprise. "My mother said I should meet you."

And this is how he met his soon to be significant other. He's definitely met his match -- another perk of this series -- strong women. But be warned religion, the church, the practices and the idiosyncrasies of  all get called out for a bit of humor. Well deserved ribbing.

The praise for this book page is not to be missed -- and that's before you even begin the story. One example:  "...Wonderful use of quotation marks. Although he [Schweizer] uses words the way a demented dentist might use a dull and rusty drill, his punctuation is extraordinary! -- Sandy Cavanah, English Professor"

The humor is refreshing and it pokes fun at the book publishing biz as much as at religion and anything else that enters the mind of Mark Schweizer.

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