Arsonists have torched two churches in a small Texas town, plunging its residents into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. The disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone - even the police. Still, he can't sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town's residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the local drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out who threatens the priest with a knife. Father Frank digs deeper into the town's secrets when a man is murdered. His investigation leads him dangerously close to the drug scene and he discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life? Cleansed by Fire is the first of the Father Frank Mysteries.
©2012 James R. Callan (P)2014 James R. Callan
I had read Jim Callan’s Cleansed by Fire and was thoroughly entertained by a delightful tale of a small town priest who is horrified and angered by the fact that someone is torching the churches. I would heartily recommend the novel to everyone who loves a good mystery.
The story explores the psyche of a small town on the edge of panic. Father Frank is appalled. The police are mystified. A small town is living in fear. The distant sound of a siren is enough to make their blood boil and leave everyone’s nerves frayed. No one sleeps much anymore.
When Father Frank seeks to bring solace to a town’s undying fear, he, too, is faced with danger as his own investigations bring him closer to the truth. He may not be able to save another church from burning. And he wonders if he will even be able to save his own life.
Cleansed by Fire is an enjoyable and satisfying read, and there are a few good chuckles woven into the dialogue. I felt as if I was standing around and eavesdropping on the conversations. The characters are real, and they can sometimes make you laugh and sometimes frighten you.
I had previously read the novel, but it wasn't until I listened Jonathan Mumm’s narration of Cleansed by Fire that I fully grasped the depth of the novel. His voice added drama. It gripped the storyline with a richer measure of suspense. Jonathan Mumm took a really good book and made it even better.
I would--it's a solid story and the setting really makes it come to life.
I don't tend to evaluate a book based on a "moment." What worked for me was all the moments added up, building character, establishing setting, weaving the plot--doing all the things that have to play into a successful mystery.
Probably Father Frank himself. I could imagine Father Frank with that voice, and for me it fit with the author's other descriptions of the character.
No, but I wouldn't listen to even the shortest book all in one sitting. I'm a fits and spurts reader (listener).
Attorney and author of legal thrillers.
If you like cozy Christian mysteries this book will be right up your alley. Well-written and performed by a narrator really good for the part, Callan's book is a real winner.
The priest. He was an uplifting example of grace and toughness.
The final confrontation at the church.
I found it uplifting and full of hope despite the terrible things that happened.
Old, tired member of the sandwich generation. Waiting to just get to heaven!!
This was an interesting little mystery. I like the Father and his care and concern for the people in his church. I was surprised when the presumed bad guy was not a bad guy. The real bad guy was written well. It was a good read and worth the credit. I will read the next book in the series if there is a next one.
The one thing that kept popping into my mind as I read this novel is how much it reminded my of "Father Dowling Mysteries" (with Tom Bosley in the late 80's/early 90's). Only the setting is a little different (rural town vs. big city). The book does a good job of interspersing everyday activities of church business with the events to keep the mystery flowing - while some of the everyday stuff was barely tied into the main storyline most of it had good reason to be in the story. Overall if you like cozy mysteries with a Christian flair then you will enjoy this book. The narration is very good, though I wish the narrator had a better studio to work with (you'll hear the flutter of pages occasionally) - that was the only thing keeping me from giving him 5 stars.
Father Frank is a Catholic Priest who has a hands on approach to helping his parishioners. He sincerely seeks the Lord’s guidance and help but he plays an active part too. He is involved helping the youth of his church by playing and organizing basketball games and he keeps tabs on other activities such as a new “pop” band.
An arsonist has burned down a Baptist church in the community and Father Frank takes a personal interest. That interest is increased by an anonymous confession of a youth who seems to have some knowledge but won’t reveal it. Father Frank thinks he knows which boy makes the confession but he is restricted from disclosing any information given in the confessional. As more Baptist churches are burned down Father Frank lines up a handful of suspects. There is the rough, mysterious, man who keeps hanging around the ball park asking about drug sources; a young man who seems to have a drug problem; an angry teen who was abused as a young boy by his mother’s boyfriend; and a man in a bar who sneers at Father Frank as he burns a paper steeple.
Meanwhile Father Frank encourages the budding romance of an active widow in his church who has captured the heart of the local police detective. These two add a nice, gentle side line to the mystery story.
I really liked Father Frank’s character. He lives his grounded faith in a real way, including some impulsive action. The story moves along well with Father Frank actively investigating any clue he can follow. There are side lines of interest including the youth choir and the sweet romance. There is danger, faith and sweetness in a short package that combine to make this a solid Christian cozy mystery.
Audio Notes: I’m sorry to say that I found the narration rather dry. It seemed more like a reading than a narration. I still enjoyed the overall book but I recommend a prospective listener try the audio sample to decide if this might be a story to read in print or ebook instead of audio.
I received this title for review through Audiobook Jukebox.
If you enjoy Christian Cozy Mysteries, you'll love this book! For me, it was very predictable, but I do read a lot of books especially thriller/mysteries. I can usually guess who did it well before it is revealed. It did have a few spots towards the end that were a little suspenseful and kept me wanting to continue to listen. I thought the story was well written and the narrator did a great job!
Years ago, I listened to quite a few audiobooks, mostly Ann Rule. I think Cleansed by Fire, written by James Callan and narrated by Jonathan Mumm is a perfect match. Mr. Mumm does an excellent job of giving the reader the suspense of the story.
I'd actually read this book before I listened to the audio version. I think the narrator adds so much to the story. Through his voice inflections, he makes you feel the story. The tension seems higher with a "storyteller."
Of course I liked the "bad guy" the most. The menacing tone of the narrator added just enough evil!
Author, Speaker, Technical Writer, Editor
Not necessarily. Both are good.
When the villain sets the church on fire and Father Frank doesn't appear to stand a chance of survival.
No, but then I rarely have time to do so.
James Callan is a good writer who knows how to create characters and tell a good tale.
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