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Posted August 29, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010Bleeder by John Desjarlais
Bleeder is the name of a mystery novel by John Desjarlias about the murder of a local parish priest. With the death of a beloved local priest that allegedly possesses the gift of the wounds of the stigmata, during the Good Friday mass two days before Easter, an invesitgation begins. For those unfamiliar with some of the traditions and mysticism of the Catholic Church, perhaps some background would be relevant. The concept of the stigmata is an alleged miracle whereas the gifted individual in question bears wounds and pains parallel to the wounds that Jesus sustained on his death on the cross. Well known Catholic saints such as the midevil St. Francis of Assis and the contemporary Padre Pio were thought to have been gifted with the burden of these wounds in their lifetimes. The alleged wounds which corresponded to those of Jesus crucified- from the hands/ wrists, feet, side as well as head, would bleed at various times. Usually the individual inflicted with the stigmata, would in humility, maintain a low profile. Thus, the only outward glimpse an onlooker may have ever seen of the stigmata would be the tell-tale bandaged hands.
The fictional priest, in John Desjarlais' book, Bleeder, also was rumored to have had the wounds of the stigmata- of which the murderer was well aware and exploited when carefully planning the priests's murder on one of the most holy Catholic mass services. While the superstitious religious church-goers assumed it to be part of the miracle of the stigmata, obviously the secular police force investigated the situation as a crime. The hero of the story is framed by the unknown, yet mysterious murderer. The mystery involves the quest to find who would want the priest dead, and for what motive. Apparantly, our hero must play investigator and conduct his own investigation, in order to clear his own name, sifting through the various characters. Coincidently, many have some loose motives for wishing the priest dead. Without going into details that would spoil the book for anyone who has yet to read it, the ending is a bit of a suprise and the culprit is a character that the reader would least suspect, whose motive for murder is perhaps at best weak and somewhat mundane. As to whether the fictional priest miraculously actually sustained the wounds of the stigmata, or if the wounds were symptoms of his health issues is left up to the reader to decide. The author of this story suggests scientific causes as well as the miraculous as equally plausible explanations. This is a mystery that the secular as well as religious reader will appreciate. The title of the book itself, Bleeder,has a twofold meaning in that the priest's medical condition involves issues with his blood. The strength of this book lies in its objectivity in that it does not make any assumptions as to whether the idea of the stigmata is a hoax, superstitious delusion, or if it is in fact, truly a miracle. I receieved this book Sophia press as a blogger for the purpose of writing this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Posted April 7, 2010
I Also Recommend:
John Desjarlais's "Bleeder" is a delightful page turner with full of twists and appealing characters to make it a complete mystery thriller. This novel is an action packed adventure though not as gory as the title might sound.
The protagonist in this novel is a professor, on sabbatical, Reed Stubblefield. After being wounded physically by a student's shot and mentally by his wife's death, Reed moves on to his brothers home at a small town in Illinois. Where he finds himself surrounded by many believers and sick pilgrims came to get cured by a stigmatic priest, Father Ray. Reed's skepticism and curiosity leads him to an unusual relationship with Fr. Ray. The main event of the story is death of Fr. Ray during the Good Friday service, which makes Reed the prime suspect. The death of the beloved priest and its consequences will make Reed to question his long held beliefs and philosophies. Reed's search for the real killer, the secret behind Fr. Ray's death and other mysteries won't let you put this book down.
This book is an enthralling work of fiction. It also includes lots of quotations of Aristotle as Reed is writing a book on him, which enhances the reading experience. Also the Catholic background helps in developing a great effect as the mystery unfolds. I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Sophia Institute Press.
Posted January 21, 2010
Reed Stubblefield had a hip injury that leads him for asking for a leave from work as a teacher. His brother Dan arranged a cabin for him to stay, cool-down a bit and make a book about Aristotle. When he arrived at the cabin, he noticed a bunch of people coming out of their busses with wheelchairs and canes. Puzzled, he asked the cabin owner why so many guests this season. The owner said they're here to be healed by the Bleeder, the stigmatic priest named Fr. Ray. The phone ring unexpectedly, "This is father Ray, I heard that you're working on a book about Aristotle, I have some book that can help you with that". He rejected that invitation and got mad at Dan for arranging such, he entertain the fact that Dan had more elaborate plans than this, getting Reed healed by this so called Bleeder.
Since Reed had no choice, what's the harm on having a friend with this priest? Fr. Ray allocate some time for them to meet and talk about books, their friendship bloomed. Dan was coming for a lunch with his brother Reed and Fr. Ray, the unexpected happens, Fr. Ray said that Dan got into a car accident. When they arrived at the site, Dr. Rashidi proclaimed that his brother is already dead, he suddenly noticed Fr. Ray rushing to his dead brother putting his hands on its chest, after a while Dan coughed, a sign of life.
Good Friday, Reed attends a mass to see Fr. Ray heals people. Fr. Ray entered the church with a big cross on his shoulder, stopped at middle isle, dropped the cross and suddenly falls down like a tree. Blood all-over his hands like life is being leaked out of it.
The Death of Fr. Ray puts this small town into a sudden shock on why, how and who did this to Fr. Ray.
Reed now is being blamed for the death of Fr. Ray, they believe the Fr. Ray bleeds to revive Dan, with all the facts against him, how can he solve this?
From where I am seated, I can see two different stories of the same person being viewed by one perspective which is by Reed's. The death of Fr. Ray splits the whole story into two, yet still connected without messing the story-line. A transition from a religious-mystery tone into a crime-scene-mystery tone works well with this book. The first-person-view really helps on making the connection between the book and the reader especially on some religious-thinking of main character, Reed. When you get the hung on reading this book and reached somewhere near the end, you'll get surprised on how, who and why Fr. Ray died. What a shocking revelation that can push you to say "What the ..." and drop your jaw on the floor.
This book is for those full-pledge Catholics and some mystery-type reader for a new taste of suspense. One thing good about this book is it will leave you some questions for the readers to answer through their Faith like "Does stigmatic people exists", "If they exists, is it true that you can be healed by them?" and "what happen to Reed, is he a now a Catholic?"
There are some minor flaws I've found on this one, some loose ends that needs to be tied up. Like, what happen to Manny Garcia? Does the Ascension group exist? Or it's just a way to mislead the reader or maybe, maybe this book is going to have a sequel?
Well crafted book.
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