CHARLES MERRILL SMITH RandollphCHARLES MERRILL SMITH – Reverend Randollph and the Fall from Grace, Inc.

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover, 1978. Paperback reprint: Avon, 1982.

   This third mystery adventure of C. P. Randollph, a one-time pro quarterback now turned minister, continues to learn the ins and outs of his new profession, and in this case more specifically, how he finds that a clergyman’s responsibilities entail more than just his presence at Sunday morning services.

   In addition, there are often affairs of a political nature to contend with, both within the church and out. In this case, as an extreme example, being murdered are the close associates of a television evangelist who hopes to join Randollph’s denomination before announcing his bid for the U. S. Senate.

   Without a doubt, organized religion can always use such engagingly down-to-earth men of the cloth as Reverend Randollph. Reporting fairly on the mystery, however, I reluctantly have to admit that the motive for murder is an unlikely one.

From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-Aug 1979  (slightly revised).This review also appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.

[UPDATE] 12-24-08.  The Reverend Randollph books, concerned with everyday church life as they were, remain among my favorite mysteries in which clergymen do double-up duty as sleuths and detectives.

   Charles Merrill Smith wrote five of them before a relatively early death, with a sixth almost finished at the time of his passing. The book was completed by his son Terrance Lore Smith, also a mystery novelist. Phil Grosset, on his webpage for the character, says that Terrance intended to continue the Reverend Randollph stories on his own, but two years later he was killed himself in an automobile accident.

   From the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s a list of all six Reverend Randollph mysteries:

      Reverend Randollph and the Wages of Sin. Putnam, 1974.


      Reverend Randollph and the Avenging Angel. Putnam 1977.
      Reverend Randollph and the Fall from Grace, Inc. Putnam, 1978.
      Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror. Putnam, 1980.
      Reverend Randollph and the Unholy Bible. Putnam, 1983.


      Reverend Randollph and the Splendid Samaritan (completed by the author’s son, Terrance Lore Smith). Putnam, 1986.