Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
John Jordan, an ex-cop, onetime minister of a prosperous church and recovering alcoholic, is now chaplain at a Florida state prison. Investigating the murder of an inmate during a faked escape attempt, Jordan encounters prison intrigues and personal temptations. While working with his former father-in-law, a corrections department inspector who hates him, Jordan maintains a frustratingly platonic relationship with a prison manager, sexy Anna Rodden, and harbors impure thoughts about his Fed-Ex delivery driver, Laura. He also fears that he may have AIDS because of exposure to the blood of a wounded HIV-positive inmate. The investigation suggests that a sadistic guard may be smuggling cons out to town for some illegal purpose. The action picks up when a local banker with a prison connection is murdered. A second prisoner is killed, and so is a prisoner's wife. Although Lister, a real-life prison chaplain who knows his turf, delivers gritty portrayals of inmates and prison workers, his first novel turns preachy, and readers drawn to the hard-boiled plot and setting may find the sermons stilted. At least he's morally honest: he offers redemption for his convicts but little false hope of correction for most of them. (Sept.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
After witnessing the death of an inmate allegedly trying to escape, Florida prison chaplain John Jordan works with state prison inspector Tom Daniels, a man who despises him, to find out what really happened. With help from a few alliesstunning classification officer Anna Rodden, best friend and black guard Merrill Monroe, and clever nurse StricklandJordan struggles to overcome threatening letters, officer corruption, drug trafficking, illicit sexual activity, and his own alcoholism and depression. Awkward moments and lack of finesse sometimes hinder the flow, but overall this is a promising first novel.
Born into an alcoholic family, long broken with his mother over her drinking and with his sheriff father over his decision to leave law enforcement for the clergy, hounded out of his parish and his marriage by accusations of sexual misconductRev. John Jordan ("JJ") feels he can't have very far to fall from the trailer he calls home and the prison he calls work. But his ministry at the Potter Correctional Institution goes into crisis when he sees inmate Ike Johnson stabbed to death by a panicky correctional officer who goes on to spray Johnson's AIDS-ridden blood all over JJ. While he's waiting to find out if he's infected, JJ is bullied into joining Inspector General Tom Daniels, who just happens to be his ex-wife's choleric father, in finding out who put Johnson's drugged body out with the trash. What else can go wrong? Well, bank president Russ Maddox, the uncle of JJ's new romantic interest, can be murdered under circumstances that link him directly to Ike Johnson; a rogue prison official can put a price on JJ's head; and a fresh accusation of rape can return him to the nightmarish past he's never lived down.
Enough tribulation for you, maybe, but not for JJ, who turns cheek after cheek rather than taking revenge on his tormenters or even turning evidence against them over to the authorities. The result is a first novel that takes a uniquely uncompromising view of grace, though readers less saintly than the hero will burn with impatience at his sempiternal suffering.