From debut author George comes a novel about a scandal in the Catholic Church and a priest trusted to investigate it.
Father Edwards was a young priest when he met young Sister Frances, who was having trouble with her vocation. “Sister Frances preferred daydreaming to prayer” and “often broke the rule of silence by talking to other nuns while they tried to pray.” Straightlaced Father Edwards is called in to try and counsel Sister Frances, though the plan soon backfires as the two find themselves in love: “Each discovered an interior loneliness and a yearning for a deeper relationship unaware that the sweet wine of lust began fermenting in their veins.” Though Sister Frances decides to leave the church and return to her life as a woman named Constance, Father Edwards chooses to join the Navy as a chaplain. Twenty-five years pass; Edwards pursues his career in the Navy, while Constance, after a difficult start, becomes a lawyer. When Edwards retires from the Navy, the two end up reuniting in San Francisco. Edwards, still known for his no-nonsense attitude, is asked to investigate allegations of sexual abuse within the church. As a well-heeled bishop explains to Edwards of the alleged victim’s mother: “She doesn’t trust my staff or the pastor. She is more likely to trust someone like you, a retired naval officer.” So begins an investigation that involves coverups, sinister figures, and Edwards’ introspections on the loneliness of his profession—which is where the novel is at its best. “He could meditate on the cross, read the words of Jesus and pray for his friends….But, he had no intimate, human presence in his life, no one to touch, to talk with or listen to.” However, as the story paints an intriguing portrait of Edwards, it does so while other characters fall flat. Wicked diocesan attorney Radlee Cunningham—“like a Neanderthal when he gets cornered”— does all he can to settle with victims of sexual abuse. Meanwhile, blunt and skeptical Constance is always keen to point out: “These holy people are selfrighteous [sic] hypocrites.”
Readers intrigued by Edwards’ internal struggles will enjoy following his investigation, though they may be bored by the many supporting characters.