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.
"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)
trying to see the world with my ears
First, what this is not: The title does not signal any kind of Dan Brown clone--no holy grail stuff. Also, when this novel was written (and where) a priest involved in scandal did not immediately mean a sex abuse story line - so don't pass on this for that reason. Also, this is not a faith-based novel; the series (though not this instalment) draws a little on the tradition of priest sleuth, but no affection for Catholic faith is necessary to like the priest character. Neither is this edge-of-seat stuff: There is no graphic violence and no explicit sex - any violence or sex necessary for the plot are obliquely described.
This is a combination mystery-legal-detective procedural with elements of a traditional village cozy transplanted to an identifiable Canadian city, Halifax. The novel starts slowly but picks up after first quarter. It is somewhat predictable - but the mystery is secondary to character and setting (and establishment of story lines feeding the series).
The narration is good but does not have good regional infections; however, generalized accents are much better than bad regional ones. Two quibbles with the narration: There are more priests with thick Irish brogues in the novel than in Halifax itself. And I hope the narrator gets a dictionary for some common theology terms mispronounced-- Other vocal feats seem very well done.
I'll never get to Edinburgh with Rebus or Baltimore with Tess Monaghan, so I was glad to download this while in Halifax. The cityscape isn't as strong as in the classic detective/ city combinations, but adds interest. The Canadian legal context is laid out to be easily comprehensible to a non Canadian.
I'll definitely be listening to the entire series.
I was very surprised with how enjoyable this little mystery was. I had never heard of the author or the series. Read it based on the reviews of two Audible readers I follow. Well, thank you! I just finished it and already downloaded the second in the series!
Monty Collins is a sharp tongued lawyer with an estranged wife who has an even sharper tongue. They defend a priest accused of murder and for a while neither you nor his attorney are quite sure whether Father Burke is guilty or not. The character development is very good, making even the mystery secondary to the players. But the mystery is quite good. You are given enough of the pieces to solve it -- and Anne Emery wraps the whole thing very nicely, making it just surprising enough.
Have a bit of patience at the beginning. There are phrases to the effect of "little did I know how wrong I was," or "I would come to regret those words soon enough" (not direct quotes, but this kind of unnecessary foreboding) a tad too often. However, once the story gets going, Ms. Emery's writing seems to get better as well. I had a hard time putting it down towards the end.
I thought Christian Rummel's narration was great. Yes, some of the Irish priests were a bit much -- but what could he do? They are meant to have Irish accents and he had to separate them from each other, so some do go a bit over the top. He made up for that minor fault with everything else -- even managing to make Monty's wife sound sharp tongued but likable (something that I have found is often hard for male narrators reading a woman's voice).
Like I said, I've already downloaded the second in the series (I am so happy when I find a new author who has a SERIES out already!). It's a testament to the character development that I am looking forward to finding out what happens to THEM as much as to the next mystery!
Monty Collins was a legal aid criminal lawyer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when a friend convinces him to join a private firm and defend criminals there for much more money, of course. But Monty is jaded. Most of his clients are guilty as charged and he has to try to get them off anyway. He’s gotten to the point where he automatically assumes any client he gets is guilty, and he wishes just once to defend an upstanding character. Well, be careful what you wish for. His friend and partner at the law firm introduces him to a priest who works with youth, where one of the assistants is murdered. A former policeman, also a friend of Monty’s, believes that this priest murdered the woman. Monty’s partner does not believe it and wants Monty to dig around and get information in advance so that if the priest is charged, they can defend him. Father Burke is arrogant and keeps things from his lawyer, just like all his guilty clients do, Collins thinks. But ultimately the police don’t have enough to charge him and he isn’t brought up on charges. But things don’t end there. Another woman turns up dead. This time there is a clearer motive connecting her to the priest. She is step-mother to one of his favorite pupils, and because of her negligence, the child is killed in a car accident. Both women had a cross drawn above their hearts and initials carved into the right side of the chest-IBR. Collins believes that the roots of the crime belong in Father Burke’s past and that someone is setting him up. So, before and during the trial, and after his initial conviction, Collins, mostly without Father Burke’s help, continues to search the priest’s life to figure out who hated him enough to set him up. This is an exciting book with lots of court proceedings and red herrings thrown in. I’ll certainly look forward to the next book in this series.
Always great to find a new series to get into. And after book 1 I am certainly looking forward to reading all the other books in the series.
Compliments to the narrator. I loved the Irish accent!
To get a better idea of my background. I am a working class white male in my forties. I love good fiction, and I love smart books. I have drifted towards a lot of European writers like Reginald Hill, Val McDermid.,Etc....
I really enjoyed this story... Anne Emery put together an amazing cast of characters... They are Imperfect in nature - But not to the extreme. I have to credit the narrator christian Rummel (One of my new favorite narrators) He brings Burke to life with a great Irish accent.
If he had Burke's character and voice, read a menu - I probably would have enjoyed it. The story did intrigue me as well. This is my first Anne Emery book - And after listening to this - I went and got the 4th book in the series because 2 & 3 did not great reviews by others. I enjoyed that one as well and probably would have enjoyed 2 & 3...... 1 & 4 have a little bit of everything in them. Murder - Mystery - Theology & Law
I will probably get more....... John
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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