Friday, 17 February 2012

Book Review - The Saintmaker by Mary Carroll Patrick

The SaintmakerI picked this book up admittedly a little unsure about what to expect from a Catholic genre mystery. However the description "When Janet Reed takes the job as pastoral assistant for a Catholic church after the death of her son, she hopes the job will bring her peace and healing. Instead she becomes a keeper of secrets, a murder suspect and a dead man’s last hope for making restitution for the sins of his past." sounded like an interesting proposition. 
Janet has come to the realisation that after the trauma of losing her son and fighting a lawsuit to bring those responsible to justice she needs to move on with her life. When a friend asks her to take on what is primarily an administrative job she doesn't expect to find herself embroiled in the maelstrom surrounding a suspicious death. Becoming the prime suspect drives her to find the true killer in order to clear her name. While trying to keep a pair of detectives off her back she also has to find time to put together a programme of work for an unexpected and tetchy visitor and deal with the ramifications of an apparent miracle occurring at the Church. 

For some people identifying this book as Catholic genre might be off-putting and I was concerned as someone who is not a Catholic about whether it would be overly religious in tone, or contain too much specific detail that I wouldn't understand. In the end neither was a problem. Instead it provides some interesting general points and thoughts, about the nature of faith among other things. I found Janet's atheist friend's battle to explain an event that didn't seem scientifically possible without accepting it was a miracle a good counterpoint to the many characters with a deep faith. While it did contain some details relating to the Catholic church that I wasn't familiar with there were brief explanations that meant I didn't feel completely in the dark.

In the main the book is written in the first person from Janet's perspective. I found her a complicated and slightly contradictory individual. Janet's determination to keep the dead man's counsel is a major cause of her problems. Has she revealed her conversation with him events would no doubt have unfolded in a very different way, but she is concerned about possibly unfairly tarnishing his reputation. She is effectively the author of her own misfortunes but is driven by her experience after the death of her son so it is somewhat understandable. I was occasionally surprised by outbursts of rather strong language from her, and by her apparent taste for eating takeaway food often, both feeling a bit out of character.

The start made quite an impact, detailing the death that initiates the events in the book, and from there the story moved at a good pace with more information gradually revealed until the pieces all came together at the end. The sub-plots added the picture of life in the parish and enhanced the overall tale. There were a few minor typos but generally I found this book an easy read.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*

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