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Posted October 23, 2013
David Niall Wilson’s On The Third Day is a Gordian Knot Mystery published by Crossroad Press. The tagline on the graphically stunning cover grabs our interest with what we might assume is the novel’s only mystery: “A young priest experiences the Stigmata… A miracle or something much darker?” Quentin Thomas meets with his superior, Bishop Michaels, desperately seeking help and guidance from the older man concerning the Stigmata which appeared on his body during his last celebration of the Easter Mass at the Cathedral of San Marcos, “one of the gems of the western seaboard.” Father Thomas does not know what to believe about the event, but Bishop Michaels sure does. To him, Thomas has either concocted an elaborate hoax or is simply not to be believed. Either way, there is no room in Thomas’ safe and conservative brand of Christianity for bloody and scary miracles suggesting the crucifixion. He’s certainly not happy when Father Prescott is ordered by Rome to come and investigate Father Thomas’ second Easter Mass the following year to determine if a miracle has occurred.
If this were essentially all the story was about, we might have a good novel with interesting characters. The full mystery of this novel, though, involves far more than whether or not a miracle has occurred, Thomas’ Stigmata are real, and he symbolizes or embodies Christ’s passion. The full mystery of this Gordian Knot Mystery involves the nature and wonder of all miracles and faith itself, and Wilson’s exploration of the subject is both simple and profound. Just when we think we know where he’s going in spiritual or perhaps diabolic terms, we realize he isn’t. And just when we think there’s only one mystery or miracle, we realize the one featured on the cover is but one of many.
I absolutely love the ending of this novel, or I should say, the endings. The characters grow and develop, and the author leaves just enough to the imagination without coming out and telling us what to think. The only reason I’m giving this otherwise fine novel a weak Five Stars is because there are too many typos and occasional rough patches in the writing. Otherwise, everything rises for me On The Third Day.