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Gregory Barrett, a classmate of Father Dowling’s, left the priesthood twenty-five years ago. Now, after all these years, a woman threatens to bring a multimillion-dollar suit against him, alleging he sexually exploited her when he was still a priest and she was sixteen. Barrett has no memory of her, but is devastated at what these claims will do to his career as a radio host and to his new family. So he comes to Father Dowling for advice. Father Dowling, a parish priest in Fox River, Illinois, as usual, serves as...
Gregory Barrett, a classmate of Father Dowling’s, left the priesthood twenty-five years ago. Now, after all these years, a woman threatens to bring a multimillion-dollar suit against him, alleging he sexually exploited her when he was still a priest and she was sixteen. Barrett has no memory of her, but is devastated at what these claims will do to his career as a radio host and to his new family. So he comes to Father Dowling for advice. Father Dowling, a parish priest in Fox River, Illinois, as usual, serves as part counselor, part sounding board, and part moral compass for priests and parishioners alike---not to mention cops and lawyers---and offers help to both Barrett and his accuser.
Before Barrett can decide what to do, and before the now-adult woman has made her demands known to the archdiocese, a body washes up on the shore of Lake Michigan, and Barrett becomes the primary suspect in the murder.
Also in the mix in this astutely drawn mystery are a failed writer, a parish busybody, an inept lawyer, and an embittered young man, each with his or her own agenda, and it is up to Father Dowling to unravel the links between these people whose lives were separated long ago, only to reconnect in tragedy.
"You don't have to go to church to worship mystery lovers' esteemed Father Dowling."
"Father Dowling is not the average priest, one who dispenses homilies and easy nostrums. He has been through the mill himself, is tough, yet has compassion . . . the Catholic equivalent of Harry Kemelman's David Small."
—-The New York Times Book Review
"Mystery at its bloodless, cerebral best . . . Dowling is the perfect father confessor, dealing with moral dilemmas and the weakness of man with compassion and understanding."
"McInerny's nimble characterizations and subtle soundings of the moral issues make this a strong entry in the long-running series."
—-Publishers Weekly on Blood Ties
"Steeped in human drama and spiritual significance . . . Father Dowling's down-to-earth demeanor will appeal, as always, to a variety of readers who enjoy mysteries with a religious twist."
—-Booklist on Triple Pursuit
"McInerny keeps the reader on edge as his intrepid sleuth-priest solves the crimes. . . . A deservedly popular series."
—-Publishers Weekly on Grave Undertakings
Posted June 4, 2006
NPR host of End Notes Gregory Barrett visits his former seminary classmate Father Dowling for the first time in years seeking his help. Apparently, a woman he swears he never met Madeline Murphy has just been led to remember that he sexually abused her when he still was a priest and claims he is the father of her child. Dowling thinks that is quite a memory gap as Gregory left the priesthood twenty-five years ago. Madeline is suing Gregory and the archdiocese. --- Dowling has doubts that Barrett sired Murphy's child, but agrees to look into the matter as he knows that most people today prefer to believe the priest is guilty of being a sexual predator. Also looking into the accusations is wannabe author Ned Bunting, who is working on a tell-all exposure book about the church sexual scandals. Not long after meeting with Barrett, Father Dowling learns that Bunting was murdered and fears his friend might be the culprit but if not Barrett, most likely another priest fearing exposure. --- Although the topic is interesting and clearly current, twisting the story line from the relevancy to a murder mystery adds suspense but leaves the key players (besides Dowling), Barrett, Murphy, and Bunting, underdeveloped. Thus Father Dowling works his magic, but concentrates more so on the homicide than on whether a priest acted as a sexual predator. Well written as always, THE PRUDENCE OF FLESH is one of those could have been great, but instead is a fine whodunit for series fans only. --- Harriet Klausner
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