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.