“The Lyric Wore Lycra” is the 14th mystery in an alphabetical series set in fictional St. Germaine, North Carolina in a small-town Episcopal parish somewhere near Boone, NC. It’s billed as a “liturgical mystery” with a nod to the A-Z crime novels of the late great Sue Grafton and the bucolic North Carolina charm of the Jan Karon Mitford novels.
Police Chief Hayden Konig doubles as the church music director/organist in St. Germaine when he’s not solving crimes or writing very bad noire crime fiction after the fashion of Raymond Chandler. Konig is in late middle age and about to become a parent for the first time because his wife Meg is expecting a baby girl within two weeks.
The Lenten season in St. Germaine is fraught with anxiety for Konig both because of his wife’s impending delivery and because of the murder of Sabrina, a birthing class instructor and animal rights activist who has been strangled in her car by a piece of fake umbilical cord used for class instruction.
Konig must investigate Sabrina’s death among a small group of animal rights protestors who object to the killing of nuisance waterfowl. The waterfowl are ducks that have appeared on the menu of a local restaurant being picketed. Sabrina, a member of the animal rights group, was reputed to have been beguiling some of the husbands of the pregnant women in her birthing instruction class by wearing revealing clothing, seducing them, and then trying to extort money.
Konig is hampered in his investigation by a cadre of pistol-packing grandmas who’ve formed a crime investigation club and by the illness of the local substitute priest lined up to conduct Lenten and Easter services. He suspects that a number of parenting class attendees have been blackmailed by the dead Sabrina.
The town of St Germaine has become famous for being unable to keep clergy people and for its high murder rate relative to the small number of the populace. This is a very tongue in cheek book with laugh out loud sequences of parody including skewers at church doctrine and hierarchy, politically correct eaters, religious self-improvement classes, provincial nosiness, and the high-brow reputation of classical music enthusiasts. It’s all set amid the backdrop of 40 days of good intention and superficial penitence marking the church season of Lent.
Schweizer, a musician and composer living in Tryon, NC presents a raucously good read for music lovers and for the “high church” faithful. In fact, some passages of his writing attributed to Konig, the main character, are so ostentatiously bad that they should have a cult following. Schweizer, has a past honorable mention from the national Bulwer-Lytton competition for worst opening sequence in an imaginary novel to prove his skill at purple prose.
Other recommended mystery series using either an alphabetical or numerical title scheme include the Women’s Murder Club mysteries by James Patterson, the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich and the alphabetical Alpine series of cozy mysteries by Mary Daheim.
Lisa Kobrin is the Reference Manager and Genealogy Librarian at the May Memorial Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 229-3588.