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The Search for Saint Valeria [Paperback]

William L. Biersach

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Book Description

Aug. 31 2005
Life is never dull in William Biersach's mythical city of Los Angeles. In The Search for Saint Valeria, the third entry in the series, cop-turned-priest Fr. John Baptist and his faithful sidekick, gardener and chronicler, Martin Feeney, are once again on the trail of the unusual and strange. Why is someone stealing discarded religious objects - relics, altars, chalices - from the city's antique shops? And why on earth would modern-day grave robbers want to steal the remains of a 4th century Saint from New Golgotha Cemetery? In this fast-paced story, replete with a cast of memorable characters, a healthy dose of red herrings, and a generous helping of humour, there is always more than meets the eye, whether in means, motives, or methods. What with the hallowed history of the mystery genre, some readers might be tempted to suppose that it has all been done. In his Father Baptist series, William Biersach disproves this notion with a vengeance. These stories are fresh, intricate, vibrant, and a heck of a lot of fun! The Search for Saint Valeria is indeed a noble addition to the canon.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Tumblar House (Aug. 31 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971278628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971278622
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 22 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #919,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creative mystery hunt for lost-and-found ancient relics Dec 10 2009
By TANNIA E. ORTIZ-LOPES aka Mary Magdalene - Published on
In his book, The Search for Saint Valeria, author William L. Biersach brings to the reader a creative mystery hunt for lost-and-found ancient relics where Fr. Baptist and his sidekick gardener, Mr. Feeney, find themselves searching for the dead among the living.

The book cover shows a young woman sitting near an open window praying silently while there is a silhouette approaching her room outside her house. These elements are part of the scheme of the Knights Tumblar, along with other unexpected collaborators and perpetrators, to return a valuable relic to the rightful owner.

The story begins with the first encounter of Fr. Baptist, Mr. Feeney and Burglary officer, Sybil Wexler, regarding recent robberies of antique shops that are selling discarded Catholic accouterments to collectors, such as tabernacles, altar bells, and vestments, among other items of interest. Known for his keen ability to solve unusual cases, Ms. Wexler comes to Fr. Baptist looking for answers and to have a better understanding of the value of the relics, their authenticity, and possible motive for the robberies. These robberies, however, seem to coincide with Cardinal Fulbright's order to transfer the relic of Saint Valeria from the cathedral's high altar to an unidentified niche within the lower alcove in the mausoleum at New Golgotha Cemetery.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Fulbright Murkenstein's cup and other reliquaries are stolen from his private collection located in his office. He calls Fr. Baptist to help him locate and return this precious chalice to him, as the Cardinal does not trust Ms. Wexler to do this job.

During the remaining of the story, Fr. Baptist and Mr. Feeney's parallel investigation with Ms. Wexler and her insolent partner causes some friction among them and creates suspicious, as the number of robberies in various antiques shops' in the area continue to escalate with no clue of the identities of the perpetrators, and the motives remain a mystery to them all. Nevertheless, Fr. Baptist's web of connections in all levels of society from his former cop days give him a cutting edge advantage over the unexperienced Ms. Wexler. Fr. Baptist contacts Ernie, who gets him in touch with "Some Guy" in his efforts to find the ultimate buyer. This will take Fr. Baptist and Mr. Feeney to the underground world, where only the bold and the brave dare to go alone to far away dark places, hoping to find the missing link to all the unpredictable circumstances surrounding this case.

At the end of the book, Fr. Baptist is fathom at the role of the Knight Tumblar, Arthur's narcoleptic sister, Beth, and other respectable figures in the Church, who were collaborating to find the relic of their beloved Saint Valeria and return it to its rightful place of rest.

One of the elements that make Mr. Biersach's stories so entertaining, intriguing, and fascinating is his ability to weave together elements from his previous books into the current story. Everything is a continuation in some form or another of a previous case solved by Fr. Baptist and Mr. Feeney. On this particular story the reader will be delighted by the new and unexpected state of affairs between Millie, the cook, and Monsignor Havermeyer.

I highly recommend this book to readers looking for an avid detective relic hunt and who think they are capable to solve the case as the clues are presented through Fr. Baptist's insights and analytical mind, Mr. Feeney gardener's tips, and Ms. Wexler's inept methods of investigation.

The clever and astonishing end would leave the reader wondering, 'is this possible'?

Reviewed by the author of The Window To My Soul : My Walk With Jesus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars learning 'the faith' can be fun May 16 2008
By JA - Published on
The author said this was a 'quick write.' It's also a quick read. it's so fast and fun you almost(almost) don't notice that you are learning some teachings from the true church.
As well as a dead body, there is also some romance in this mystery. As an ex-cop turned priest, Father Baptist has more skills than an average detective, while his 'gang' keeps the reader amused, amazed, and turning the pages.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery with a Catholic flair July 29 2010
By Florentius - Published on
There is something terribly wrong in the fictional Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Catholicism is withering, weighed down by worldly priests and an unfaithful laity. Even Cardinal Fulbright seems more concerned with appearing "modern" than in the glorious heritage and teachings of his Church. But there is an oasis--a traditional parish known as St. Philomena's that is run by ex-cop-turned-priest Father John Baptist. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the unctuous Cardinal tolerates Father Baptist and his Latin Mass parish in the middle of this sea of modernity.

This antipathy toward tradition in fictional Los Angeles means stripping Catholic parishes of their beautiful artifacts--monstrances, ciboria, chalices, vestments, altars, and even reliquaries--and these holy items have been showing up for sale in pawn shops and other seedy places. To top it all off, the Cardinal has even moved the miraculously incorrupt body of the city's patroness, Saint Valeria, out of the cathedral and into an unmarked grave.

However, this final outrage seems to have sparked a string of robberies. Catholic holy items have been stolen from all over the city. Even the Cardinal's own personal chalice, an ugly modern monstrosity, has been pilfered. To solve this string of crimes, the Cardinal calls in Father Baptist. Soon, assault and murder are added to the string of crimes connected with Catholic artifacts and it's up to Father Baptist and his gardener/sidekick Martin Feeney to unravel the mystery.

The Search for Saint Valeria is the third Father Baptist mystery, but it happens to be the first one I have read. Admittedly, I'm not a big mystery fan. But this one held my attention and even made me laugh a few times. It is quite cleverly written and for any Catholic who is aware of the goings-on in the non-fictional Archdiocese of Los Angeles, some of the characters and antics in The Search for Saint Valeria will raise eyebrows and elicit the occasional sigh of disgust.

I recommend this book. If you are a traditional-minded Catholic, you will certainly enjoy it.

If you liked this book, you will no doubt also like The Incorruptibles so you may want to check that out, too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read with interesting ending April 6 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The author does a great job weaving mystery and Roman Catholic beliefs into one story. The author also makes clear the problems of the church since Vatican 2.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Writtten! April 15 2014
By B. Douglas - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting and well written as always. However, a little over-the-top especially with the remains of St. Valeria in the airport. A Saint who was martyred 17 centuries ago trolling around the airport in a wheelchair - incorruptible or not, a little farfetched....

Still a superb novel and Mr. Biersach writing style is truly first class. One learns to appreciate the Traditionalist more and more with each of his novels.

God Bless,

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