Time for another double review! I waited so long to review the first in the series, The Liquor Vicar by Vince R. Ditrich, that the sequel The Vicar’s Knickers came out before I was able to dig the first out of my bookshelf. So, I read the books back to back to get the full effect of the series, and I was delighted by the unforgettable antics of the famous Vicar from Tyee Lagoon on Vancouver Island.
We meet Tony Vicar as he is acting as DJ at a local wedding, dressed as an Elvis impersonator. He gets so drunk he shouts incomprehensible things at the audience, then messes his pants. Stuck in an unfortunate loop of going nowhere quick, he finds a new job at a liquor store in his small-town, thus earning himself this new nickname. Surprisingly, his life improves, even meeting an ex-exotic dancer named Jacquie O. who falls in love with him, and helps him clean up his life and make new friends, including those he makes liquor deliveries to. But then the Vicar finds himself at the centre of a media frenzy when he helps at a car accident, encouraging one of the victims back from the brink of death. He later blesses (as a joke) a winning lottery ticket, quickly becoming a celebrity overnight. This attention attracts a beautiful but unstable fan, Serena, who is obsessed with becoming the Vicar’s lover. Serena does her best to push Jacquie out of the Vicar’s life, but true love prevails, albeit after an action-filled showdown with well-intentioned bandmates knocking people unconscious with bongs.
In the sequel, The Vicar’s Knickers, Tony is renovating an old hotel with Jacquie in hopes of bringing new life and business to their small town. But a strange apparition makes a few appearances in one of the rooms under renovation, hinting at an old ghost story from decades past, while a jaded Hollywood reporter is sent to Tyee on assignment, covering the Vicar’s every move in hopes of creating a scandal that will sell magazines. The only scandalous thing about Tony’s life is his language, so this nasty journalist decides to sabotage the Vicar’s hotel and reputation with the intention of ruining his hotel’s success. Other zany character are thrown into the plot, including a line cook with a penchant for dressing up like a Moose, and one of Tony’s old bandmates who is convinced he was abducted by aliens. Perhaps the biggest development in Tony’s life is the arrival of a new baby, dropped off on his and Jacquie’s doorstep one snowy night. Despite the loads of drama, this book also ends on a high note, much of it wrapping up by the last few pages, but ready for some new and exciting adventures for Vicar to embark upon in the third book, planned for release in February 2024.
I’ll admit to being less than enthused when I dove into the first one. The writing felt overblown, and Vicar’s character wasn’t one I was excited to spend time with. But once he meets Jacquie and they begin a life together he gradually morphs into a likeable guy with upstanding values and a soft spot for friends. The second book continues in this same vein as we see Tony develop into a doting partner and father, but the book is far from sappy, instead, it bounces around between dilemmas, but always keeping a lighthearted tone throughout. And after the first few chapters, I became accustomed to the language used by the author. It remains exaggerated, but humour is the intention behind it all, and once we settle into Vicar’s life, this humour becomes easier to understand and enjoy.
To help give you a glimpse into the kind of writing I’m referring to, below is the perfect example. In this particular paragraph, a local restaurant’s terrible food is described in Ditrich’s memorable writing style:
“Drab, white, slightly dry hamburger buns that always seemed to make a muff, muff sound when chewed perennially held a steamed puck of some type of brownish-grey meat, garnished with a soul-destroying gherkin slice and a squirt of a mysterious condiment made from emulsified sadness and mothers’ tears.”-p. 37 of The Vicar’s Knickers by Vince R. Ditrich
The novels include this writing all the way through; it takes a bit of getting used to, but it eventually grew on me, just as the character of Vicar did.
My favourite part of this book is the cast of characters as a whole that live in Tyee Lagoon. It reminded me of a cozy mystery, because more often than not, the ‘baddies’ got what was coming to them, and those with a good heart and good intentions typically came out on top. The good fortune may not be entirely believable, but this entire series is wacky. The author is clearly having fun writing it, and the reader is meant to join in on the fun too. By the end of the second book I was really enjoying myself, and I look forward to reading the third.