- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
A woman is dead, her throat and midsection viciously slashed open, a lethal dose of heroin found in her system. But what makes this grisly New York outrage different from all the others -- and tosses the "red-ball" squarely in Detective Paul Devlin's lap -- is the fact that this victim was a nun. Blistering heat is coming down from the mayor's office, One Police Plaza, and the Archdiocese, so Devlin needs to find a murderer, and fast. But suddenly walls are being made to derail an investigation that is leading ...
A woman is dead, her throat and midsection viciously slashed open, a lethal dose of heroin found in her system. But what makes this grisly New York outrage different from all the others -- and tosses the "red-ball" squarely in Detective Paul Devlin's lap -- is the fact that this victim was a nun. Blistering heat is coming down from the mayor's office, One Police Plaza, and the Archdiocese, so Devlin needs to find a murderer, and fast. But suddenly walls are being made to derail an investigation that is leading Paul Devlin and his people in a shocking direction: into the secret, fortified heart of the Catholic Church itself -- and toward a terrifying conspiracy cloaked in silence, piety, and blood that extends wider than anyone ever imagined.
They followed the vested priest in long lines, two abreast, first the men, then the women, all of them young, all looking as though they had just stepped from steal ming baths — every one so clean and fresh and seemingly innocent. Next came the nuns, also young, each one dressed in the black-and-white habits you seldom see anymore, large rosary beads wrapped around their waists, the crucifixes at the ends hanging to their knees. Brothers followed in black suits, each distinguishable from the handful of priests who brought up the rear only by the black neckties they wore in place of clerical collars.
Paul Devlin watched as the coffin was placed over the open grave. Watched as the young men and women divided, each sex moving to opposite sides of the bier, the nuns then stepping in front, closest to the coffin, the brothers and priests forming a rank at its foot.
Sharon Levy leaned in to Devlin and whispered, "God, all those kids. They look so freshly scrubbed. It's scary."
Devlin glanced at his tall redheaded sergeant. "You have something against clean?" he asked.
"I love clean," Sharon said. "It's uniformed clean that makes me nervous.
She was right, of course. Devlin had noticed it too. All those pink-cheeked kids, all in their late teens or early twenties, all with faces that looked almost angelic. Every bit of it so out of place, considering the corpse.
The mutilated body of the young nun they were burying had been found three days ago, gutted and stuffed in the trunk of a car at Kennedy airport. It was late summer,still oppressively warm, and the car had been abandoned in the long-term parking lot. There hadn't been much left by the time the nun was found — at least for forensic purposes. But there was enough to tell she had been carrying heroin in her body. A lot of heroin, packed in condoms she had swallowed.
The detectives who first caught the case initially speculated that the young woman had only been posing as a nun when she came through customs. It had proven a false assumption. The woman, Maria Escavera, was a naturalized U.S. citizen whose parents had emigrated from Colombia. She was also a postulant in The Holy Order of Opus Christi, where she had chosen the religious name of Sister Manuela.
So far the media hadn't tumbled to the drugs. That part of the forensic report had been buried. They only knew that a nun had been viciously murdered, and that was how Mayor Howie Silver wanted it to remain.
We don't need a goddamn media circus, he had said, when he had handed Devlin the case.
Devlin looked down the long winding cemetery road all the way to the main gate. Uniformed cops were there now, holding back the newspaper reporters and television crews.
It was already a circus, and it would be an even bigger one once the newshounds got wind of the drug angle. Then it would become a full-scale three-ringer. Of that Devlin had no doubt. There was no way to avoid it. Sooner or later word would leak out — a cop hoping to curry favor, someone in the ME's office. He only hoped it came after they had found the killer. If it came before ... ? He didn't even want to think about it. He shook his head, annoyed by his thoughts. Stop whining, he told himself. It's part of the job, the one you wanted, the one you agreed to do.
Devlin was inspector of detectives, a rank that had lain dormant for many years until the mayor had cajoled him into returning to the force from an early disability retirement. The promotion that went with the lob gave him unusual power in the New York Police Department, a fact that he enjoyed more often than not. He worked directly for the mayor, with the right to supersede even senior commanders, under Howie Silver's umbrella of protection. It was Silver's way of escaping the political intrigue that permeated One Police Plaza, the headquarters building better known to working cops as the Puzzle Palace. It allowed the mayor to put Devlin in charge of the high-profile, politically dangerous cases that so often battered, and occasionally broke, any man foolish enough to become mayor of New York.
But the power of the mayor might not be needed for this case. The NYPD brass seemed more than willing to step aside.
Devlin considered the gathering again. Everyone present was a member of Opus Christi: The Holy Order, as it was known to its members. It was one of the most influential factions within the Catholic Church — some said the most influential, even surpassing the Jesuits. The mayor had made his position clear. Devlin was to find the killer and keep the press at bay — not only to cover Hizzoner but also to avoid any embarrassment for the Archdiocese of New York. Devlin understood. He had already clashed with the archdiocese on an earlier case, and the mayor had borne the brunt of its wrath. It was with good reason that New York's Catholic prelature was known as the Powerhouse to the city's politicians, a distinction not lost on NYPD's senior commanders.
The priest began the final prayers, driving away Devlin's thoughts. The prayers were in Latin, something he had not heard since childhood, when he spent every Sunday morning sitting with his sister and his parents at Saint Joseph's Church in Queens. During the intervening years, the long-dead language had been abandoned by all but a few Catholic sects. Hearing it now, he recalled how mysterious it had seemed to him all those years ago, a tongue known only to those initiated in the sacred rituals of Holy Mother, the church. A faint smile flickered on his lips as he thought of that term and how the Dominican nuns who had ruled his earliest years of school had used it over and over again to elevate those in Rome who ruled the lives of every Catholic.Unholy Order. Copyright © by William Heffernan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted December 9, 2008
New York City Mayor Silver created a special unit within the New York Police Department, one that answers only to him. The special unit, run by Paul Dentin an inspector of detectives, takes on the political hot potato cases so high profile nobody else wants them. Paul¿s latest case has him pitted against the archdioceses of the Catholic Church and one of its factions, The Opus Christi. <P>The Opus Christi, though part of the church, is a separate and very secretive sect that answers to its own leaders. When one of its minions is found with her stomach gutted because she was carrying heroin smuggled in from Columbia, the leaders won¿t give Paul and his team access to the nun who accompanied the victim. Four catholic priests are killed in cold blood with all of them afflicted with AIDS but the archdiocese does all in its power to block that investigation as well. Paul has to resort to some very creative police techniques to flush out the killers, especially since one of them threatened his ten-year-old daughter. <P> William Hefferman has written a fascinating police procedural that partly uncovers the veil that hides the inner workings of the Catholic Church. There are various sub-plots that ties essentially into the main story line and the characters that populate this tale run the gamut of the human psyche. Though some readers might feel offended, most of the audience will believe that UNHOLY ORDER is the author at his talented best. <P>Harriet Klausner
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2014
Posted June 15, 2007
A wonderfully written thriller with amazing detail by the author. I'm in awe of his research and experience which he brings to the characters and story. It reads like first-hand information, you are there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.