Keating. Pastor Stephen Grant Novels
Stephen Grant, pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on Long Island, former Navy SEAL and onetime CIA operative, came on the thriller/mystery scene in Warrior Monk: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. During 14 books in the series (Past Lives (2021), Vatican Shadows (2020), The Traitor (2019), Deep Rough (2019), Shifting Sands (2018), Heroes and Villains (2018), Reagan Country (2018), Lionhearts (2017), Wine Into Water (2016), Murderer’s Row (2015), The River (2014), An Advent For Religious Liberty (2012), Root of All Evil? (Second Edition 2020), and Warrior Monk (Second Edition 2019)) readers come to see that Grant didn’t fully leave his old life behind. He often must wrestle with how his current work as a pastor intersects with, is influenced by, sometimes comes in conflict with, and at other moments is aligned with his former life with the CIA. With a wide-ranging group of recurring characters – from his days with the Agency to his parish work – the reader is treated to action, suspense, humor, various relationships, faith, love, adventure, mystery, and opportunities for reflection and discussion.
Mendenhall. A Glooming Peace This Morning, published by Livingston in 2022
Narrated in the first person by “Cephas,” who recounts childhood events in the 1970s in the fictional town of Andalusia, within the fictional Magnolia County, A Glooming Peace This Morning is a “look back” novel that tells the story of the improbable, forbidden love between Tommy Cox and Sarah Warren.
A mysterious illness brings Tommy and Sarah together. Tommy has an intellectual disability, and his relationship with Sarah leads to a heated trial that stirs up the entire town. His prosecution and conviction turn on whether he could have, under the law, formed the requisite intent to be found guilty of the crime with which he’s charged.
Throughout the novel, Cephas and his friends—chiefly Lump, Brett, and Michael—get into trouble as they struggle to come to terms with their growing knowledge of Tommy and Sarah’s intimate relationship. Along the way they learn about justice, truth, lust, and love, and meet several wildly believable characters.
Bishirjian. Coda, published by En Route Books
Bob Hill is a newly elected U.S. Senator from PA who is granted a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because he’ll need to know about American relations with other nations when he is President. During the years he was in public office he became a heavy drinker to the distraction of his wife Mary, a devoted Catholic who copes with her husband’s addiction by saying the Rosary, sometimes 50 times a day. After a presentation to a group of Neocons whom the Senator taunts with a distinctive “nationalist” speech, he drives with his wife to the Palm from the Mayflower hotel. The car he is driving is struck by another vehicle killing Mary. The Senator is sentenced for Involuntary Manslaughter and convicted of DUI and directed to seek treatment for addiction to alcohol with time in treatment applied to a sentence of one year in the DC jail. The Senator travels to Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs where on impulse he purchases ceramic statue of dancing woman dressed in a blue gown from Coda Gallery. The statue comes alive at night in his clinic room and the Senator seeks council from a priest in Palm Desert.
Ryn. A Desperate Man
Could two people be more enviable than Richard and Helen Bittenberg? They love each other, have two healthy, intelligent children, are financially comfortable, and live in a pleasant neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Richard is near the top of his profession. Yet he is distraught. It seems to him that corrupt, dark forces are destroying the country he loves. Troubled by his powerlessness, he seizes a daunting, wholly unexpected opportunity to act. He is drawn into tense, sometimes harrowing circumstances that tax his conscience and endurance to the utmost. Helen worries about his stresssed condition, but does not know its real cause. Suddenly she finds herself in a nightmare of her own. Richard and Helen must independently handle grueling ordeals, one involving secret political machinations, one involving an agonizing police investigation. The milieus of the novel are Washington, D.C., Paris and environs, and Charleston, South Carolina. Though suspenseful , this is no ordinary thriller. It is a work of literary fiction, a moral-psychological drama that becomes a commentary on the state of America and the Western world.
Moore. A Fatal Mercy. The Man Who Lost the Civil War
Just before the American Civil War erupts in 1861, Drayton FitzHenry, the son of a prominent South Carolina rice planter, marries an Irish Catholic girl from the North over the objections of both families. Drayton opposes slavery and secession and hates to leave his bride. Yet when the War erupts, he feels me must join his brothers in the Confederate Army in defense of his state. During the conflict’s most decisive battle, Gettysburg, Drayton makes a decision which he discovers years later caused the South to lose the battle. Losing at Gettysburg means eventual defeat in the War. By an act of mercy, he is literally “the man who lost the Civil War.” After Appomattox he returns to South Carolina to find his wife and father have died and his home destroyed. For 50 years Drayton wrestles with guilt and self-reproach until 1913, when he travels to Gettysburg for the 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Battle. In this actual event, 50,000 Union and Confederate veterans returned to the battlefield for a time of national reconciliation. The Reunion helped heal the still-raw wounds of the War. It also brings Drayton’s story to a dramatic climax in which he sheds his burden to find peace and reconciliation with himself.