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Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 Audiobook

Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1

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Publisher's Summary

Monty Collins is a sharp-tongued public defender who just wants to represent an upstanding character for a change. A priest with something to hide isn't quite what he had hoped for, but when the literate, arrogant, and tight-lipped Father Brennan Burke is implicated in the strange murder of a young woman, Monty doesn't just take the case - the case takes him. When Burke won't come clean, Monty is forced to play private detective, traveling into his client's past.

Things look good for the case until another body is found, marked with the same telltale sign as the first. Burke keeps mum, alternate suspects are ruled out, and the trial looks like it might be lost before deliberation. As if it couldn't get any worse, Monty's wisecracking ex-wife enters the picture, and she seems to know more about Burke than Monty does. Evidence and coincidence pile up, leading to a revelation neither Monty nor the listener see coming.

©2006 Anne Emery (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Halifax writer Emery will keep your already hot blood boiling thanks to this compelling legal drama." (Hour)

"A smart, elegantly written courtroom drama that will, I hope, be the first of many." (Calgary Herald)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (220 )
5 star
 (66)
4 star
 (97)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (6)
Overall
3.9 (198 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (197 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (5)
Performance
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  •  
    Katherine Mason, OH, United States 03-27-16
    Katherine Mason, OH, United States 03-27-16

    I love to read mysteries, histories, biographies, humor, and Jane Austen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bought as a lark, glad I did"
    What made the experience of listening to Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 the most enjoyable?

    The narration is outstanding. Mr. Rummel makes each character very distinctive with his voice. I particularly like his voice for the priest, Fr. Burke.


    What other book might you compare Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 to and why?

    This reminds me, somewhat, of "Presumed Innocent," where the story delves into and develops both the personal and professional lives of the main characters. I read a lot of mysteries, though, and this is not easily comparable to any others.


    Have you listened to any of Christian Rummel’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I enjoyed pacing it out over time. I would get frustrated with Fr. Burke - his arrogance and intransigence - and so it was good to take a break. I should add that my frustration with Burke came from his rich and complex personality. There is much, much more to his character than arrogance and stubborness!


    Any additional comments?

    I bought this book because it was recommended by Audible - one of those "Before you check out, try one of these other books on sale." So glad I gave this a chance.

    I was a bit disappointed in the ending. No spoilers, but there is a dinner party at the end that just does not ring true. I also don't care for books that use the end of book 1 to dangle book 2 of a planned series before the reader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 04-20-14
    Anne 04-20-14

    Tyler

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A thought provoking mystery Emery is a master!"
    Would you listen to Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 again? Why?

    after a long while I will- it is a cut above most of my books I beleve all high school or college students would benefit from reading this book.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    no but more like engaged-


    What about Christian Rummel’s performance did you like?

    I like the uncommon and distinctive style of C.R.'s presentation- It would sway me towards buying another book as no other ever has.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes! there were some moving momentsI that are well worth remembering!


    Any additional comments?

    This book is credit worthy

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 12-24-15
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 12-24-15 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is a Good Beginning!"

    If you are as picky about narration as I am, the first minutes of this book may cause you to listen no further. That is because the narrator (who did a really great job otherwise) produced a pretty awful female voice in the first minutes of his effort. But don't quit! He got a lot better and the story was really engaging. . . you'll be solving the who dunit right along with attorney Collins as he tries to sort out the accusations against Father Burke.

    This is a good mystery -- tight plot, interesting characters and good writing. I will be looking for more in the series, for sure.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 08-31-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 08-31-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OK, But Just OK."

    First off, Christian Rummel is terrific. While he does Emery's entire ensemble wonderfully, he's particularly effective in creating female characters.

    But my problem wasn't in the presentation of these characters… who are quite fully created with resonant personalities… No, the problem I had was that I didn't like any of these people, particularly the lead priest. I know… I know… people are complex. And Father Brennan Burke kept getting complexer and complexer (!).. to a point that went beyond his annoyance to his attorney Monte Collins… To the point where he annoyed me. And Emery surrounded Burke with equally annoying colleagues. Grumble.

    I don't like to pay to be annoyed. But maybe it takes a really talented writer to do that, huh? So, I'm not sure if I'll try another Anne Emery novel or not. At this point, probably not.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    josie Asheville, North Carolina 07-05-16
    josie Asheville, North Carolina 07-05-16 Member Since 2008

    Thank God for books of all kinds and ears to hear

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love it!"

    I thought the writing in this mystery was really well done. The characters had depth and I cared about all of them. I am looking forward to listening to more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    twiggray COLUMBIA, SC, US 01-05-15
    twiggray COLUMBIA, SC, US 01-05-15 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Glad I found this series!"

    Delightful book! Really good characters and incredible dry wit. I found myself laughing out loud as I was lost in the story. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas FARMINGTON, NM, United States 07-20-14
    Thomas FARMINGTON, NM, United States 07-20-14 Member Since 2016

    Alleline

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Classic in the tradition of Dick Francis"
    What did you love best about Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1?

    The plot was well thought out and gripping. It kept me listening until 2:00 am to find out whodunnit.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoy Dick Francis because all of his characters have a backstory and motivation, even the villains. This was similar. Anne Emery wants you to understand why the crimes happened, and I found the motivations credible and even moving.


    Which character – as performed by Christian Rummel – was your favorite?

    Fr. Burke. Rummel has a great range and does children and women well, too. But the slight Irish accent and clipped intonation he gave Burke were perfect for the character.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The revelation of who the killer was and why did bring tears to my eyes. I bought it; it did not seem forced or manipulative.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret PORTLAND, OR, United States 03-22-14
    Margaret PORTLAND, OR, United States 03-22-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very good story, irritating reader"
    If you could sum up Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 in three words, what would they be?

    Entertaining, implausible, grating


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Monty. He was a regular guy with common sense and a brain.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Christian Rummel’s performances?

    No. He seemed so uncomfortable with all the female characters, read them all at 78rpm, and gave them all a caustic tone. The male characters were fine.


    Any additional comments?

    Father Burke's actions were often unbelievable, especially the big fat kiss in front of many witnesses. I liked Monty enough to read another one, but can't listen to Christian Rummel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP United States 02-12-14
    KP United States 02-12-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Enough to Read a Second"

    I came across this book on my hunt for good mystery series. It was given good (4+ stars) reviews by two people I follow on Audible.

    I was hopeful that this would include some local color (it takes place in Halifax, which I've never visited), but alas, the focus was primarily on developing the characters. The defense attorney Collins and the accused priest Burke are the primary characters, and while they are pretty entertaining (Burke in particular, probably because of the Irish accent), and despite the fact that their lives are turned upside down when Burke is accused of murder, their dialogue and relationships with others are just a little too easy and convenient, a little too perfect.

    The mystery/whodunit part dragged a little bit, but that didn't matter so much as it took second seat to getting to know Collins and Burke. I felt I knew them just well enough by the end to warrant downloading Book 2 in the series.

    I didn't love the narrator, but what saved him from ruining the experience for me was that so much of the dialogue came from Burke and so was delivered in a passable Irish brogue (for whatever reason, to me, audiobooks in English/Irish/Scottish accents just sound better!).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina Seattle 12-26-12
    Regina Seattle 12-26-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not convicing, but not a total waste of a credit"

    There are many terrible and reactionary things about the social policies of the Catholic Church, but for Catholics, the pull of the sacraments is tidal. If you wonder how anyone with a social conscience could still be Catholic, Anne Emery tries and I think largely fails to address that question. She has done her research, but I just don't believe her characters. She's on the edge of the experience instead of at its center. Even so, this is not a terrible book. It rolls right along and doesn't sensationalize, considering the subject matter, a priest accused of grisly murders.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
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  • susanna
    OKEHAMPTON, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "A very current issue"

    This was my first Emery mystery. I'm a vicar and I enjoy books set in the church. This did not disappoint. I love the detective and grew to appreciate the priest. The characters were engaging and well developed through the story. The plot focused on the current church controversy over paedophilia and the issues around celibacy and was handled very well by the author, I thought. The ending was held in suspense to the end which kept me wanting to stop everything to listen awhile longer than I had! Christian Rummel is an excellent narrator.....clear and engaging. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Enquiring Mind
    United Kingdom
    3/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The adventure begins!"

    This series of books (7 of them as I write this review) are just good old-fashioned, well-written entertainment. Monty is a well-rounded and thought-out character who has depth and humour. Brennan is just about the most honest description of a Catholic priest I have read in fiction books. Human, flawed, honest, funny, deep and caring, Brennan is the counter-point to Monty's questing mind which longs to see justice done, no matter how long it takes him. If you like a good yarn with good characters and a decent plot, give these books a go. One thing I would say is that all of the books centre around a Catholic community whether it is in Canada, Ireland or Italy, so be aware of that going in. It is best to start off with this book as the first in the series. Although Anne Emery does an excellent job of making sure she gives enough information for those readers who have not read the series in order, it is more satisfying especially in regard to the relationship between Monty and Brennan, to start at the beginning. The icing on the cake for all these books is the narration by Christian Rummel. He does a superb job. It's no wonder there are literally dozens of books out there narrated by him, he is awesome.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. S. Mccarra
    Scotland
    5/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "When it all comes together"

    A good mystery means that you are keen to follow the path of clues and get to the end to see if you were right. But a good story carries you with the characters as they follow the path. Anne Emery has written a very good story. She takes you into the hearts and minds of the characters while they trace their journey past and into the present unraveling the effect that their words and actions have had on others. It reminds us of how simple words can have profound and long lasting effects. She has done this exceptionally well. Whilst a good story from an excellent author has often been spoiled for me by a poor narrator the choice in this case fitted perfectly. Christian Rummel toned his characters just right. It was like listening to a play at times. This is a book I will listen to again. Anne Emery and Christian Rummel are names I will search for again. What a good find this was! It all just came together.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • diana
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    5/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thoroughly enjoyed the joyed the journey"

    I thought the characters were well rounded and the injection of the dry humour made it a very enjoyable read. I also thought the narrator did a good job with all the different accents as I felt it bought the characters to life.

    I am looking forward to settling down with book 2 Obit to continue the adventure of Monty and father Burke.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • valb
    10/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narrator brings characters to life"
    What made the experience of listening to Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 the most enjoyable?

    Excellent narration, each character's personality brought out by the narrator which could be missed if just reading to yourself


    What does Christian Rummel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Narrator defines the personalities more than if reading to oneself. Great Irish accents and always knew which characters were speaking


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, the enjoyment was in looking forward to listening over a number of days


    Any additional comments?

    I note the same narrator has narrated the other books in the series therefore I look forward to listening to them

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mandie
    United States
    6/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fairly Predictable"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Take out the very annoying excerpts from poems/songs at the beginning of every chapter


    Has Sign of the Cross: A Collins-Burke Mystery, Book 1 put you off other books in this genre?

    Yes won't be buying any other books in this series


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Narrator was fine except for the very "posh" english accents used - was very annoying


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    No


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • mollyeyre
    Leicestershire UK
    6/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't put it down"

    I loved the main characters in this novel, they were well defined and really likeable. The story was well crafted with a good ending, certainly I will look for more of the Collins - Burke series. My only disappointment was that some of the accents by the narrator were awful, especially the 'upper crust English toff' voice', however, apart from that it was quite nicely narrated, and I managed to switch off my dislike of the accent. Definitely worth reading!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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