The Good Priest

Author: Tina Beattie
ISBN: 987-1-78901-692-5
Date: 2019
Price: £9.99
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Publisher: Matador

The custom of issuing Lent books has become important in religious publishing in recent years. Sometimes the author is enabled to go through a book in line with the days and weeks of the season. This is less common in the genre of thriller detective novels involving the serial killing of women, but few such novels are written by theologians. Tina Beattie is one of the most brilliant and original Catholic theologians in this country; she has for some years (according to social media) been squeezing the writing of this novel into early morning sessions, alongside her other writing and academic work.

The novel follows the life of a priest, John Patterson, from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday in an urban Catholic parish in a fictional city in the west of England. There are three interlocking strands: his daily parish ministry, centred in particular on the hearing of confessions and celebration of the Mass; his struggle with being gay, stretching back through the whole of his life and his time as a seminarian in Rome in particular; and a series of particularly horrifying murders of women, carried out every Friday, in the local area. A review cannot really indicate more of the ways in which these strands are skilfully interwoven by Beattie without revealing too much of the plot.

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