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The Rosary Murders (Father Koesler #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  407 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews

Priests and nuns are his targets. A plain black rosary entwined between the fingers of each victim is his calling card.

The police don't have a clue, but Father Koesler sees a pattern --- a consuming religious obsession that can drive one man to serial murder. And to an unexpected and terrifying encounter inside Koesler's own confessional ...
Mass Market Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 13th 1989 by Ballantine (first published 1979)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mary JL
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any mystery fan
Shelves: mystery-horror
William Kienzle wrote at least 20 mysteries featuring Father Bob Koessler. Like any series, they vary a LOT in quality. Some are splendid; some are average.

This is the first one ins the series and the plot is pretty good. Try it and see if you like the character--because they are all somewhat similar in being character-driven mysteries.

I find them light, easy mysteries and usually with a good puzzle and not too much graphic violence.
Sara Nowlin-Edens
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Rosary Murders, first published in 1978, is coming to readers again. This cozy mystery is fun, easily followed, and easily read. The Rosary Murders was made into a movie, starring Donald Sutherland, in 1987. This book is one of some twenty-four crime novels featuring Father Robert Koesler.

William X. Kienzle spent twenty years in the priesthood after leaving due to a disagreement with policy. He was editor of MPLS Magazine in Minneapolis, then later was director of Center for Contemplative St
Debra Pawlak
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an oldie, but I really enjoyed it--especially all of the details about the Detroit area. I understand there are another twenty books in the series and if I can find them, I will definitely read them. They are funny and remind me of a precursor to Stephanie Plum. Thoroughly enjoyed this quick read from days gone by!
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Although convoluted the plot is an interesting premise. Father Koesler is no Rabbi David Small.
Lisbeth Zabihi
Jeg har endnu engang dykket ned i bogreolen og fisket en god gammel ven frem. Jeg husker da jeg fik bogen - for mange, mange år siden - og dengang var jeg super begejstret for bogen. Det er jeg sådan set stadig. Det der trækker bogen lidt ned, er at den virker lidt gammeldags i det. Men kan man forvente andet? Krimien er skrevet i 1979, så alderen har nok til dels indhentet den. På plussiden er naturligvis genkendelsens glæde, men også det gode plot i bogen. Præster og nonne
Lorraine Rankin
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like all the Fr Koesler mysteries, so enjoyed this one. Kept my interest.
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it
The Rosary Murders is the first in a series featuring Father Koesler, by the late William X. Kienzle. The mystery is set in Detroit, Michigan during the '70's. At that time, Detroit was famous for its monstrous murder rate and widespread crime. Contributing to this madness, is a murderer who is killing priests and nuns, around the holy season of Lent and Easter. Father Koesler is the editor of the " Detroit Catholic"', a newspaper for the city's Catholics, including both clergy and church follow ...more
Kathie H
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young adults on up
This is the first in the Father Koesler series by the late William X. Kienzle. It was quite good. I believe this was his first novel too. I could definitely relate to this because I'm a lifelong Catholic. I understood the references to Vatican II & how it changed the Church (especially in the late 1960s & 1970s). This is a gripping murder mystery that I think will engage the reader regardless of one's religious persuasion (or lack thereof).

Kienzle did get a little hokey & repetitive
Ellen Dark
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I just finished a reissue of William X. Kienzle's first mystery novel, The Rosary Murders. I hadn't read it when it first came out in 1978, but I did recall that Donald Sutherland had starred in the movie of the same name.

The book , set in Detroit, opens on Ash Wednesday, and an elderly priest is killed while waiting to die in a hospital. Two days later, a nun is murdered in her bathtub. Soon, other priests and nuns are murdered, each left with a rosary in their hand. Soon a police task force a
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book about Father Koesler in Detroit. Very interesting how the priests live and work. I have the original book club edition that was published in 1979 and something about reading an older book and seeing what was important during the late 70's was like walking down memory lane. I am not a Catholic, so some of the things were new to me, but I did enjoy this book. There were a couple of editing errors that kind of threw me off, but they were minor.

This is the first boo
Sandy H
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'd read the first three or four books in this series back in the early 90s, if I recall (based on how old my kids were at the time!). I had remembered enjoying them so decided to pick up the series at the beginning again now. I think I remember now those things that had bothered me then. The first book in the series was written in the 1970s and has a 1970s view on women and people of color, so that is irksome. Some of the dialogue is awkward and uncomfortable for me to read now. However, I do l ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
"The Rosary Murders" is the first book in the widely popular Father Koesler mystery series. At times I thought the prose was a little stiff and maybe there was more Catholic Church history in the book than I really wanted to read. When I started this novel, I thought Father Koesler would have a prominent role as a sleuthing priest, but at times he was almost secondary. Also, I thought the solving of the mystery was a little contrived and just too convenient. Since I have downloaded a second Fath ...more
Sare Gordy
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This was an interesting read. Light, chock-full of the Catholic church. Interestingly, it was written the year I was born, and it was fascinating to put that in perspective. It was a bit difficult to get into at first, but I don't blame this book - it's been a while since I read this genre and for various reasons was interested in getting back into it. I've got a stack of Kienzle's books on my shelf to read, borrowed from a friend, and I'm looking forward to reading them in-between the heavier s ...more
Linda Rawlins
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I finally finished this book, but it was a little difficult for me. I wanted to see how the mystery and plot worked out and so I did. I had trouble in two areas. The first was that I kept waiting for that place in the book where you are finally so grabbed by the plot that you are compelled to finish as soon as possible. Sadly, I never found that. Secondly, I was a put off by a number of ethnic and sexual slurs that would not be acceptable if published today. The book was written over 20 years ag ...more
Floyd Schneider
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have a special interest the topic of ethics and religion. When a clergy person sees his profession as a profession, a job, a career, instead of a calling to help people, then this book becomes real. Sad. I enjoyed the book, but did not enjoy the reality that the book portrays. The ending was horrendous, but a lot of reality is horrendous. I wonder how many people can actually identify with this book? I hope very few.
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is the 1st in the mystery series with Father
Koessler as the sleuthing character. It was very
interesting with the background of Detroit and of the post-Vatican II Catholic Church. We see both in major transition and both having great difficulty with the challenges of a new world.
The plot is somewhat obvious and the writing
is mixed, but the characters of the priests and
nuns are well-drawn and there is little bloodshed. I would like to read another one in the series.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book before, but I enjoyed it so much I saw it at a used book sale and bought it to read again. This is one of my favorite murder mysteries because it is set in Detroit amongst the Catholic Community of the 1970's. I group up a Catholic in the Detroit area during the time the book is set. I am so familiar with the landmarks, the Detroit Catholic culture, etc. that it brings back a lot of memories. Good little murder mystery!!
Feb 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
The first in the series of Fr. Koesler mysteries is very much a product of its time and place (the US in the 1970s). While the plot is serviceable, the characters tend to be heavily stereotyped, both racially and in terms of class, and what Kienzle thinks is humorous race-banter between a black cop and a white cop is cringe-inducing.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice easy read. Why are the priests and nuns being killed? This more than the identity of the killer is the central question that plaques the cops. This is a cozy mystery in which the characters are entertaining, believable and where the answer is given and the identity of the killer is figured out in the end. But, watch out for that last minute twist!
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: domino
I didn't expect it to keep my attention but it did. Some reviews said that the religion was too heavy but considering it's about a Church Father and religion, of course, it's going to give a religious education. I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I look forward to reading more of Kienzle.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it
The Rosary Murders was a fairly average book. It had a great deal of potential but the author just let it fizzle out. He spent a good deal of time telling instead of showing and some of the characters seemed rather pointless. He could have tightened the story a lot. This is only one of two time when I actually liked the movie better.
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Father Koesler helps his friend Lieutenant Walter Koznicki with a series of murders that began on Ash Wednesday. Besides the excitement of trying to solve the crime before the end of the story there is wit and humor. A good clean read from an earlier day without the sex and profanity.
Paula Howard
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
The Rosary Murders was a good book, just not as in depth as I prefer to read. It was set following Vatican Council II, so those references were interesting. A good book for someone just beginning to read mysteries.
Rachel Cotterill
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a solid murder mystery set in Detroit's Catholic community. Although it's a republished book from the 70s, it feels pretty timeless, and I enjoyed it enough to look out for others in the series.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though a somewhat tame mass/serial murder mystery, a lot of insight into the post-convention Catholicism of the 70s-80s as the numbers declined in the priesthood and convents. Sad vision of what Detroit once was.
Trudy Pomerantz
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Not a bad murder mystery combined with an insider's look at the RC church in the late 70's post Vatican II. The author was himself a RC priest until he left the priesthood in 1974 because he disagreed with Rome's position on marriage after divorce.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting - the behind the scenes of the lives of Catholic priests and nuns.
Nov 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Good plot foiled by too much detail and too many names that are similar...gets confusing and have to go back to find out who this person is.
Diane Wachter
HB-B @ 1979, 4/82. Father Koestler mystery. They died with rosaries in their hands. Good.
Cheri Mobley
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable series
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William X. Kienzle was born in Detroit, Michigan. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and spent twenty years as a Roman Catholic parish priest. Kienzle left the priesthood in 1974 because of his disagreement with its refusal to remarry divorcees. He became an editor of MPLS Magazine in Minneapolis, later moving to Texas where he was director of the Center for Contemplative Studies at the Uni ...more
More about William X. Kienzle...

Other Books in the Series

Father Koesler (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • Death Wears a Red Hat (Father Koesler, #2)
  • Mind Over Murder (Father Koesler, #3)
  • Assault with Intent (Father Koesler, #4)
  • Shadow of Death (Father Koesler, #5)
  • Kill and Tell (Father Koesler, #6)
  • Sudden Death (Father Koesler, #7)
  • Deathbed (Father Koesler, #8)
  • Deadline for a Critic (Father Koesler, #9)
  • Marked For Murder (Father Koesler, #10)
  • Eminence (Father Koesler, #11)

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