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Patrick O'Flaherty

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1989. 214pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-920911-83-8. CIP

Reviewed by Deborah Mervold.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Priest of God is a novel with many threads woven into the plot. The main character is John Ryan, a priest with a background of problems. His personal struggles are developed and explained as he attempts to solve the mysterious death of a local teenager. Through this search lo solve the unanswered questions of the death, Father Ryan encounters people in the community who are also struggling with problems. His sense of inadequacy is shown through these characters. As well, these characters portray the divided community with its power struggles and traditional boundaries.

The book jacket describes the story as "gripping and occasionally frightening." I would not agree. As events unfold there is predictability in the outcome. The number of characters limits the choice of suspects in the crime. The priest, single-minded in his pursuit of the truth, was not believable. His pain was real, his suffering was apparent, yet the movement to make the reader part of the struggle was missing.

The references to the current problems in the Catholic Church were a good addition. With the longer rambling sentences, particularly in the first chapter, it was difficult to gain a sense of life in Newfoundland. Neither the setting nor the characterization gave a three-dimensional quality to this novel, yet there was a certain desperate quality to Ryan that stays with the reader.

Patrick O'Flaherty is a Newfoundland born writer. Priest of God is his third work of fiction.

Deborah Mervold, Shellbrook High School, Shellbrook, Sask.
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