Mystery novel blends spiritual with the procedural – Daily Journal

Theres a strong tradition of religious sleuths in mystery writing Brother Cadfael, Father Dowling and Rabbi Small for example. In each case, the detective relies on his religious training to get to the bottom of a criminal puzzle, usually a murder.

Father Fortis, a Greek Orthodox contemplative, is clearly in this mold. In this latest mystery by David Carlson of Franklin College, the priest again teams up with his longtime friend, Detroit homicide detective Christopher Worthy, to solve a complex case.

The pair are called back to Albuquerque, New Mexico, site of a previous novel, to help unravel a case involving the husband of the local police officer who assisted them in that previous mystery.

Sera Laceys husband, Freddie, is suffering from PTSD following his latest Army tour in Afghanistan. He is accused of murdering a fellow soldier who served with him. But he is in a near catatonic state and cannot defend himself. Meanwhile, Laceys son is in jail due to actions reflecting his own frustration over Freddies condition.

While Worthy pursues the criminal case in dogged, police work fashion, Father Fortis is able to break through to Freddie, which triggers a series of events that ultimately lead to a dramatic confrontation.

The stories of the husband and son are intertwined, and the investigations move forward in tandem. About midway through the novel, Sera is assigned a missing person case involving a teenage runaway. This case, too, becomes part of the mysterys web and figures into the ultimate resolution.

Given the authors background in philosophy and religion, rather than criminology, its not surprising that the sections involving Father Fortis are the strongest. Carlson effectively describes how the priest relies on and utilizes his faith to unravel the mystery. He also writes with great compassion about Freddies condition and treatment.

Carlson describes the New Mexico scenery effectively, with enough detail to give the novel a real sense of place.

In all, the novel is a relatively quick and enjoyable read. But it is the religious aspect that sets this work apart from scores of other police procedural mysteries.

About the book

Title: "In the Clutches of the Wicked"

Author: David Carlson

Pages: 213

Price: $14.95

Publisher: Coffeetown Press

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Mystery novel blends spiritual with the procedural - Daily Journal

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