Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Review of "Confessions" [11]

Confessions:A Novel by Ryne Douglas Pearson
Schmuck & Underwood
November 2010

Father Michael Jerome is awoken from a restless sleep, dreaming again of when he and his sister were kids, spending the summer at the modest cabin at the lake that their parents own. A bittersweet dream, because his sister is now dead, shot in a grocery store holdup some five years ago. But the phone is ringing and duty calls, his duty as a chaplain of the Chicago Police Department. A policeman has been shot.

The world of cops is not new to Michael. He personally knows the policeman that has been shot but then he knows a lot of cops. His dad is retired from the force and these people, including the injured policeman's dad, were his friends.
Michael arrives at the hospital to find that, happily, the injury to the policeman is not as bad as first thought and that he will be fine. The same can not be said of the criminal who shot him. Taking a bullet to the head, he is not expected to live long and Father Jerome is called to his bedside where the man begs the priest to here his confession and offer him absolution. But when Michael hears what the man says in his ramblings, he is so shocked that he can not respond. It is not the shooting tonight that the man confesses, but the killing of a young woman some five years ago in a grocery store...Father Mike's sister.

It seems it was not a holdup at all, but a "hit".
And in pursuing the truth of what happened that night, what Father Mike's believes he knew about his sister and so much of what he has built his life on, will be shaken to it's very foundation.

This was a good book, a compelling read, but not without some flaws, flaws that seem to bother me more now, some days after I read it, than when I was reading the book. So we will get them out of the way first.
I have written about this before, but sometime small mistakes of an author just jump out and annoy me to no end. I am a Catholic. I assume Mr. Douglas is not..or was just a bit careless in his "priest stuff". A priest 'says' Mass, or celebrates Mass, he does not 'do' Mass. Never heard it said. And then most Catholics, unless they are trying to make some sort of point, capitalize the word is not 'mass'. When a priest exits the church from the altar at the end of Mass, the dismissal, he would be, as the celebrant, always the last in the procession, after the altar server and readers or deacons, not in the front as the author writes it. OK, those mistakes, little mistakes, just drive me nuts. Authors, get an expert to read the book before it is publish and find these things..please.

There is the whole 'seal of the confessional' thing. For those of you who are not familiar with Catholic beliefs, let me explain. What you tell a priest in the sacrament of confession is secret. Big time secret. Go to prison secret, go to your death secret...and there are priests throughout history who have in fact been killed rather than reveal what someone told them in a confession. Yes, it is that serious, that sacred an obligation. Yes, there may be a priest or two who has broken that obligation but it is rare, very rare. But poor Father Mike spills the beans, and to the most unsuitable person IMHO, in his journey to solve the mystery of his sister's death, so quickly, so easily, that my head was spinning.
Really Mike..just like that? And worse, he is not seemingly that upset about it. But then honestly, Father Mike does not seem like a very spiritual man. Maybe he should have been a cop like his dad.

Then there was the ending. The epilogue as it were, not the end to the mystery, which was a shocking surprise. Father Mike's world has been shaken to the core. I get that. But how he handles it is so cliche, so 'easy', that I was disappointed. Ok, enough of my 'issues'. I am sorry. Things like that just drive me nuts.

Now, the good and a great deal of good there is. First of all, Mr. Pearson is a lovely writer. Sometimes his prose is just so beautiful that it really makes this book rise above a common thriller. Very nice.
The characters are all very good, very believable and Father Mike is very easy to identify with as his world starts to crumble. Even when I found him a bit annoying, he is believable.
And the story..the story is very good. So good that I read the book straight through in one day because I just had to know what happened. There is one aspect of the mystery that I guessed but an ending that I did not see coming. Gosh. Very good and, when explained, believable.

As I said, Mr. Douglas is a very good writer and I look forward to checking out some of the other books he has written in the future. In the meantime, Confessions is one I would recommend.

This one is from my own library.
An e-book, something I may have to write about tomorrow.


  1. Well, heck, I don't know what to think. Because I AM Catholic and that stuff would just drive me crazy. Seriously, how hard would it have been to have a Joe Blow Catholic browse through it before it was published? Considering that the title of the book is "Confession" and that the religion is the basis for the plot, there should have been greater care taken. But then I guess, if Father hadn't spilled the beans we wouldn't have a story then.

  2. yes, well, he could have kept it to himself and investigated it by himself..or ok, he could have spilled the beans and been really, really upset about it, like "oh, I am my way to hell upset". but no...

    Maybe I should offer my services at Joe Blow Catholic for

  3. I wanted to thank you for the review.

    To answer a couple thoughts you had:

    I am Catholic. From a VERY Catholic family. Priests and all.

    Your point about the procession at the end of mass (or Mass ;) is correct, and one of my priest relatives caught that after his third reading. It will be corrected in a future edition.

    As for the term' do mass', I believe you may be referring to a conversation between priests about 'will you do the 7 am for me?' or something along those lines. Priests are, mostly, fairly normal folks, and I've heard many speak just such as that 'I have to do the 9 o'clock'. I think they tend to speak more informally among family or fellow priests.

    Again, really, I do appreciate the review, even with criticism. It's always best for an author to accept that openly.

    Feel free to contact me through my website if you have any further comments or questions.


  4. It sounds like there's a lot to like in this book even with the errors. I want to know this e-book story!

  5. you will have to come back tomorrow

    Hey Mr. Pearson {{waving...waving}}

    See, folks, you have to tell the truth, because people, like authors, may read what you write. Actually, I seem to be on a bit of an author roll..

    The 'do' mass was not, as I remember it, in the way you suggest, which I could see. But hey, you are the author and you might know
    But there were a few other of these "Catholic" things too.

    Nevertheless, you have a lovely way with words and I enjoyed the book a good deal.
    And folks, you should give it a read!


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