The Rector and the Rogue
W. A. Swanberg, The Rector and the Rogue (San Francisco: Collins/McSweeneys, 2011).
I don’t think I would normally have been attracted to a book that brings up a story that briefly made headlines in New York in the 1880’s and has been largely forgotten since. I’m not a huge fan of the mystery genre in the beginning and historical mystery can capture my attention for only short periods of time. But i found Swanberg’s book to be thoroughly fascinating.
Perhaps the attraction was in the simple fact that I identify with one of the principal characters in the story. Although there are plenty of big differences, Rev. Morgan Dix was a minister near the height of his career in his mid-fifties, who was used to having plenty of people who, for whatever reasons, attacked him and the institution he represented. The scheme perpetrated by the “Gentleman Joe” character is not, however, completely malicious. It is more like a giant piece of street theatre with thousands of characters.
This small volume is probably not one of the great books of our time, but it is an entertaining story worth picking up for a quick read.