Arsonists have torched two churches in a small Texas town, plunging its residents into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. The disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone - even the police. Still, he can't sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town's residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the local drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out who threatens the priest with a knife. Father Frank digs deeper into the town's secrets when a man is murdered. His investigation leads him dangerously close to the drug scene and he discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life? Cleansed by Fire is the first of the Father Frank Mysteries.
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A Not So Cozy Mystery
I had read Jim Callan’s Cleansed by Fire and was thoroughly entertained by a delightful tale of a small town priest who is horrified and angered by the fact that someone is torching the churches. I would heartily recommend the novel to everyone who loves a good mystery.
The story explores the psyche of a small town on the edge of panic. Father Frank is appalled. The police are mystified. A small town is living in fear. The distant sound of a siren is enough to make their blood boil and leave everyone’s nerves frayed. No one sleeps much anymore.
When Father Frank seeks to bring solace to a town’s undying fear, he, too, is faced with danger as his own investigations bring him closer to the truth. He may not be able to save another church from burning. And he wonders if he will even be able to save his own life.
Cleansed by Fire is an enjoyable and satisfying read, and there are a few good chuckles woven into the dialogue. I felt as if I was standing around and eavesdropping on the conversations. The characters are real, and they can sometimes make you laugh and sometimes frighten you.
I had previously read the novel, but it wasn't until I listened Jonathan Mumm’s narration of Cleansed by Fire that I fully grasped the depth of the novel. His voice added drama. It gripped the storyline with a richer measure of suspense. Jonathan Mumm took a really good book and made it even better.
- Caleb Pirtle
Hooks you in!
I would--it's a solid story and the setting really makes it come to life.
I don't tend to evaluate a book based on a "moment." What worked for me was all the moments added up, building character, establishing setting, weaving the plot--doing all the things that have to play into a successful mystery.
Probably Father Frank himself. I could imagine Father Frank with that voice, and for me it fit with the author's other descriptions of the character.
No, but I wouldn't listen to even the shortest book all in one sitting. I'm a fits and spurts reader (listener).
- Diane Bailey