Ash Wednesday

Father Dowling Mysteries (Volume 27)

Ralph McInerny

Minotaur Books

Father Dowling has been serving as parish priest and resident sleuth at St. Hilary’s for a while now, but he’s no lifer, and there’s plenty that he doesn’t know about the old guard. So when a stranger comes to Fox River who isn’t a stranger to anyone but him, he has to rely on his prying housekeeper to tell him that the mystery man is actually a well-known murderer. Ten years ago, Nathaniel Green’s wife was dying of cancer, and after a short remission she relapsed into a coma. That small sliver of hope so utterly dashed must have been too much for him because when the nurses came to check on her they found that he had taken her off of her life support. Green’s return divides the community, but the more Father Dowling ponders the moral questions and reinvestigates the case, the more he wonders if Green committed any crime at all.

With parishioners up in arms, Father Dowling has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a conviction is no proof of guilt in Ash Wednesday, the newest addition to Ralph McInerny’s acclaimed and beloved mystery series.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
"Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

Father Dowling murmured this formula as he traced a cross on the foreheads of the old people who advanced up the middle aisle of St. Hilary’s on this Ash Wednesday. Remember, man. No feminist had ever objected to this inclusive term, perhaps wanting to think of it as gender specific. Like All men are mortal?

It was the rheumy eye of Monica Garvey staring into his as he applied ashes to her forehead that prompted these irreverent thoughts. Monica was known to complain about the Church’s


Praise for Ash Wednesday

Praise for Ralph McInerny’s Father Dowling Mysteries

“Mystery at its bloodless, cerebral best . . . Dowling is the perfect father confessor, dealing with moral dilemmas and the weakness of man with compassion and understanding.”
---The Chicago Tribune

“You don’t have to go to church to worship mystery lovers’ esteemed Father Dowling.”
---Entertainment Weekly

“Father Dowling is not the average priest. . . . He has been through the mill himself, is tough, yet has compassion.”
---The New York Times Book Review

“This series continues to deliver, with a fascinating protagonist, intelligent plotting, and dry humor.”
---Booklist on The Widow’s Mate

“Entertaining . . . McInerny keeps the story moving with several twists and turns, producing another solid parish mystery for Father Dowling to solve in his usual quiet and compassionate way.”
---Publishers Weekly on The Widow’s Mate

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ralph McInerny

  • RALPH MCINERNY has authored more than forty books, including his popular mystery series set at the University of Notre Dame, where he has taught for more than fifty years and is the director of the Jacques Maritain Center. The recipient of the Bouchercon Lifetime Achievement Award, he has also been appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.
  • Ralph McInerny Photo: Matt Cashore


Available Formats and Book Details

Ash Wednesday

Father Dowling Mysteries

Ralph McInerny

  • e-Book



Minotaur Books