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Robert Dugoni is a decent writer. I read My Sister's Grave a year or so ago and generally enjoyed it. In the acknowledgements on this book Dugoni says this book was written 20 years ago and sat in a file cabinet somewhere until he dusted it off for publication. I can't say the world would be a worse place if it had stayed there.
Dugoni writes good action, and this contains that touch. But there are premises that are hard to swallow, some hinky transitions, a collection of meh characters, and a few other hitches.
We can start with the basic premise. A Catholic priest who operates a shelter for teens in San Francisco's Tenderloin is found holding the bloody corpse of a murdered shelter resident. A rough and sexist/racist detective is one of the first on the scene. He breaks into the priest's office without a warrant and finds a bloody letter opener. A politically ambitious DA picks up the case and starts pushing for the death penalty. I have a problem right here. We're talking more-Catholic-than-average San Francisco here, and nationally there hasn't been a priest put on death row or executed since 1916 (a German-American priest and probable serial killer who chopped up a woman he impregnated.) I find it hard to believe that a DA would find it would boost his political standing to be the guy who sent a priest to the executioner.
The priest's case is taken by Peter Donley mostly by default. He's been working in his uncle's law firm and the uncle was set to represent the priest but suffered a stroke before getting the chance to meet the priest. Donley goes to interview the priest, who is sitting in a cell reciting the rosary on his fingers. Because of issues from an abusive father and a mother who often recited the rosary Donley freaks out in a PTSD moment and flees, never meeting the priest until the first hearing. There, because the priest is determined to plead not guilty, Donley (who has no experience in capital crimes) is compelled to represent the priest.
This is just to outline some of the weaker parts of the book, but as they're fundamental to the plot the action sequences that follow end up feeling more irritating than exciting. This is especially true near the end when a former-cop-turned-detective begins getting introduced, normally in ways that interrupt the flow of the best scenes of the book. Plus at one point this detective, who was relieved of duties, is allowed to lead a squadron of SFPD officers as a civilian on the raid of a building.
The book is further marred by less-than-realistic motives by the DA and the racist/sexist cop who turns out to have daddy issues.
Again, in 20 years Dugoni has become a better writer. This book deserved a much better tweaking and edit to smooth out some of the weaknesses and perhaps a rewrite to bring it into the current decade.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
The choice to set this book in 1987 confused me and I didn't find the author consistent in the way he portrayed the time.
I seem to remember that in 1987 the main scandals about catholic priests hadn't really broken yet. (Absolutely things were happening, but the lid hadn't blown off yet.) Sometimes the characters seemed to speak from the perspective of what we know now, and at other times from an '80s perspective. As I write this, I think I realize that the author moved it back because there is no way the church would now allow a lone priest to set up a shelter staffed by just him for underage boy prostitutes. But too many things weren't "down-dated" for me.
And the priest retells the story of St. Paul saying that before his conversion, the then Saul persecuted and even "murdered" Jews. Saul was a Jew!!!! He persecuted Christians!!!! (He was a Roman citizen and claimed the right not to be crucified as such, but he was definitely a Jew.) To me there is no way that even a blue-jean wearing, tattooed priest would get that wrong.
I confess I tunes out once I started noticing these type of things. The story seemed good, but I wish the author had invested in a good substantive editor/researcher, especially after he decided to turn back the clock to 1987.
I don't return many audiobooks, but I'm returning this on.
123 of 140 people found this review helpful
Another great and exciting tale by this author. Well read the story flows along st great pace with no filling out . Funny one liners add extra entertainment to the story. Most enjoyable and well recommended
1 of 1 people found this review helpful