Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Book Review: The Millstone Prophecy by Jack Harney

A couple of weeks ago the High Court ruled that dioceses are responsible for the actions of their Priests, applying the concept of vicarious liability. This is a ruling which could make it much easier for victims of abuse to claim compensation from the Catholic Church, so unsurprisingly the ruling is to be appealed. With this in mind The Millstone Prophecy was a timely read.

The Millstone Prophecy
When NYPD Detective Dax McGowan's beloved daughter Grace kills herself the subsequent  investigation soon reveals she and a friend were being abused by a Priest at their local church. Before Dax and colleague Janet have a chance to catch up with him the culprit is spirited away by a hierarchy keen to protect their own. Janet introduces Dax to Rebecca Bain, an abuse victim who now capably heads up a group, Clergy Abuse Survivors, who are secretly tracking priests and investigating cases of abuse. Dax is out for revenge, heading on an international manhunt that will put him in grave danger. 
This book, the author's debut novel, is clearly based around a lot of research and I found the piece on Jack's blog about the inspiration for the book very interesting. This is a serious subject that is treated sensitively, and while there is no doubt left about how awful the abuse is there are no graphic descriptions of it. In light of news coverage of the topic  over recent years the depiction of a cover-up starting with the Vatican seemed altogether too plausible. Some elements like the group of hitmen tasked with eliminating threats to the Church seemed more rooted in the realm of fiction (although who knows) and combining the two made for a good balance.

I warmed to Dax and found his methods of deduction partly amusing and partly very clever. I'd like to have seen more of no-nonsense Janet, but the romantic interest Rebecca represented also provided some relief from the serious matters covered in this book. I also found the ideas floated about a breakaway American Catholic Church made for food for thought.

For all the elements I liked I found the prose rather verbose and for me this didn't mesh well with the crime thriller unfolding. Some of the language used and the turns of phrase adopted didn't feel natural and I also felt the dialogue from some of the characters, Dax and Rebecca in particular, felt a bit stilted. 

On balance I liked this book which addresses a topical matter with a fictional flare and I'd be interested in seeing more from this author.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*

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