Sunday, June 5, 2016

Book Review: Reverend Randollph and the Splendid Samaritan

Title: Reverend Randollph and the Splendid Samaritan 



Author: Charles Merrill Smith and Terrence Lore Smith

Date: 1986

Publisher: Putnam

ISBN: 0-399-13140-X

Length: 222 pages

Quote: "There were other preachers of the doctrine of secular success flowing from religious faith...But...however dubious Jim Trent's theology, the Splendid Samaritan was a splendid speaker."

The splendid speaker gives God the credit for his wealth...but would everyone agree with his pious explanation of how Mr. Trent got so rich? Could this religious conflict possibly explain why, after the scene where his rhetorical skill impresses Reverend Randollph, in his next scene Trent's been murdered?

Charles Merrill Smith planned to write more than seven detective stories about Reverend Randollph, and didn't plan to focus each novel on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Terrence Lore Smith, in fact, intended to continue the series his father had apparently discussed with him...Readers didn't buy it. Terrence Smith didn't write like Charles Smith. Detecs.org comments that the final Reverend Randollph story that was ever published is "the weakest in the series." Terrence might have worked on other ideas his father left behind, but didn't live long enough to develop any of them into a marketable novel.

Perhaps one "weakness" in Splendid Samaritan is that solving the mystery doesn't rely exclusively on a reader's understanding of just one Deadly Sin. This novel highlights a contemporary trend in Protestant ministry, but does it reflect Pride more than Avarice or Wrath?

Another weakness is that, after learning the objective facts presented as the history of Trent's success, we know whodunit; the only remaining "mystery" is how.

Nevertheless, Terrence wrote up the story from his father's outline, so it can fairly be counted as the end of the Reverend Randollph series. If you liked the first five volumes, volume six will...lack something in the way of texture, I'd say. Reverend Randollph was wiser and wittier when his original creator was writing him. Still, series readers want to complete a series, and Splendid Samaritan does complete this one.

To buy it here, send $5 per book + $5 per package (for as many books as fit into one package) to either address at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately this series are not Fair Trade Books, but Fair Trade Books can be added to a package.