The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer is the first in the comedic Liturgical Mysteries series. I came across these books last year and have now read every one of them, including the latest, The Diva Wore Diamonds.
Hayden Konig, chief detective of St. Germaine, in the North Carolina mountains and part-time organist/choirmaster of St. Barnabus Episcopal Church, is the protagonist. The author is also a choir director so much of the satire and humor in the books is best appreciated by readers who have spent time in church choirs of any denomination. Schweizer makes many references to his favorite classical sacred music recordings in the books, and I confess that this has sent me over to ITunes or amazon.com on several occasions to buy them for myself.
Schweizer is evidently a big Raymond Chandler fan and so each mystery has a “novel within a novel” as his hero Hayden Konig dreams of writing the next big gumshoe story and his efforts are intertwined with the main mystery story line.
Another unique feature of The Alto Wore Tweed, and the other books, are the musical parodies that are part of the plot. Readers can actually download the musical scores and listen to performances of these parodies such as The Moldy Cheese Madrigal from TAWT on the publisher’s website.
I contacted Mark Schweizer and he has agreed to join in our discussion today, so please feel free to direct comments or questions to him.
And now here are a few questions to get the conversation started:
- What did you think of Schweizer’s Chandler-style mystery parody? Did it enhance or detract from your enjoyment of TAWT?
- TAWT includes several musical parodies: The Moldy Cheese Madrigal, The Christmas Penguin and The Three Queens. If you enjoyed them, which one was your favorite? If you didn’t like them, why not?
- TAWT also satirizes the Left Behind series, the Re-Imagining Conference (we Presbyterians sure remember THAT kerfuffle), and competitive community Christmas displays. What did you think of those satires? (Note to those RevGals who may be sensitive to Schweizer’s characterization of the woman priest in this first book: the rest of the series features the Right Rev. Gaylen Weatherall, priest and later bishop, as a beloved recurring character.)
- Before I forget, there was a murder mystery in the book, too! How would you rate it?
- Why are the North Carolina mountains a popular setting for books featuring religious characters, e.g. Jan Karon?
- Did you enjoy TAWT enough to recommend it to someone else or to read other books in the series? If so, why? If not, why not?