Oh, oh – I’m sorry, NetGalley!! I have been neglecting my duties! I have read books but completely forgotten to review them, as I’ve been busy with 40 Acts. So here is a catch up review on one of the books:
The Net Galley description reads:
Father John is the parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows in Westonville, but when the ordered tranquillity of his life is shattered by a stranger walking into the confessional on Ash Wednesday, he finds himself on a Lenten journey of increasing dread and horror. And when he is confronted with memories of his historic abuse, John discovers that what he thought to be forgiven and forgotten still lurks deep in his memory.
A pattern of murders unveils terrifying associations between the stranger’s appearances, John’s own past, and the murders. Could the stranger be the cardinal who abused him during his time in Rome, and who is rumoured to have died in the 9/11 attacks? Is he a ghost emanating from the same world as Sarah, the ghost of a little girl whose benign appearances are a protective presence in John’s life? Or is the man in the confessional not really dead? Through the increasing traumas of Lent, John struggles with the temptations and fears that begin to assail him wherever he turns.
The Good Priest is a story of faith and doubt, of real and imagined hauntings, of the epic dramas that lurk beneath the surface of an ordinary Catholic parish, and of the devastating power of violence and terror to rip apart relationships, friendships and loyalties. At once a thriller and a theological exploration, the book takes the reader into a world of altered realities where nothing is quite what it seems…
I would say it is a good summary of the book, and gives a good idea of what to expect. I must say that I really enjoyed the book, and was very engaged with it – it was taken to work, and picked up in spare five minutes. It’s not often that I am that involved in a book.
I found the characters completely believable – even the most extreme ones – and Father John was a likeable character and a credible priest. I understood his viewpoint and his doubts were in line with his experiences. There was one passage of theological discussion/exegesis that I skipped over – this was the one part that jarred a little, although I think it was necessary for the plot, and to inform readers, it maybe could have been better introduced. It was a bit heavy for the setting.
I think that a non church goer might find some of the story a little too “Christian-centric” but Christianity, and Catholicism, to be precise, is at the very heart of the story, and so is a necessary part of the telling. Perhaps one criticism is that I felt the ending a little too rushed: while it was a believable conclusion, a bit more explanation of the motives and a slightly longer drawn out ending would have been more satisfying. But I have to admit that my sigh of relief as I finished the book drew some strange looks in the office!
A four-and-a-half star read. I’d recommend this book wholeheartedly.