An asylum inmate survives personal demons and the social injustices running rampant in the 1950s.
Roy, who insists that he’s Roy Rogers, finds the old priest’s body in the records room of the Sunrise Mental Hospital. Since he isn’t supposed to be there and would be medicated to a fare-thee-well if found out, he gets his buddy Harry to help him remove the body to the stables, dig a hole for it, cover it with straw and leave it there for the horses to poop on. But the riddle of who killed the priest and why fascinate Roy, who like his cowboy hero wants justice to triumph and truth to win out. His curiosity sets in motion queries that will tie the old priest to the murder of Marcia Weinhart, who was left for dead on the altar of St. Adrian’s Church back in 1934. Even after another priest dies, Roy’s detecting work continues to be hampered by other inmates’ paranoia and shame, and the fact that power trumps truth and money trumps power. Still, Roy, like his hero, persists to uncover a saga of clerically sanctioned debauchery, familial vengeance and civic disdain for the welfare of the people sequestered in Sunrise.
First novelist Barone, an ordained minister who grew up scampering around an institution his father worked in, has delivered the least preachy, most intense sermon on tolerance you’re likely to hear. Roy’s return will be welcomed.