Over My Dead Body
What's that character's name?
Didn't that happen, first?
Whoa! wait a minute, isn't he contradicting himself?
I think you get the idea. Over My Dead Body was written by James R. Callan. Since my version was an audible book, some credit must be given to Jonathan Mumm, who narrated the story. The narrator changed voices so distinctly that I had no doubt who was speaking to whom. So Mr. Mumm gets some of the credit for making Mr. Callan's characters come to life, as well as making the story's point of view clear.
Progress has come to Pine Tree. A large, aggressive land development firm wants to build a shopping center. Overall, the town's people want it, except for one old curmudgeon, Syd. (Sorry, I can't give the last name because I can't flip back to the page it's on.)
Syd commits suicide. The thought of Syd committing suicide was just plain out of the realm of possibility for Father Frank, the protagonist in this mystery. Father Frank is a priest, and as such, Syd's confessor. So he knows Syd well. But Syd's friend, Georgia, also finds the idea of Syd committing suicide ridiculous.
Father Frank and Georgia first have to prove to the police that Syd's death was murder and not suicide. Luckily, Georgia's boyfriend is a cop, and is able to not only help in investigating but adds the authoritative dimension that is needed in some situations.
If it's murder, then who did it? The suspects are:
Near-do-well brother in law
Agents from the land developers
Friends jealous of Syd's money
Beneficiaries of Syd's will (includes Father Frank)
Everyone single one of them is credible, except Father Frank. Not because he's a priest, but because the author would be killing off his protagonist, and this is only the second Father Frank mystery. The first was Cleansed by Fire, which I will purchase because I enjoyed this book.
In fact, Father Frank is almost murdered! He, like Syd, was in the way of the land development. Plus, Father's parish inherited quite a bit of money from Syd. He also was snooping around too much, trying to find out who was behind Syd's murder.
Father Frank is likable. We get to know him as a regular guy who likes sports and people. We come to know his sister, Maggie too, who comes to him for fraternal love and marriage advice. Will she figure in future mysteries? I hope so.
This is a good story. I love audible books. I get to "read" more books while commuting. But they are not so easy to review. Names will be lost and maybe even the sequence of events. It's difficult to trace back. But that is just an inconvenience. It doesn't detract from the fact that this is an enjoyable mystery; Father Frank is a love; the parish is friendly and interesting, and you can continue living in this community with the other Father Frank books.
I was given this audible book for free, for the purpose of review. But so can you. The audible book is being offered free as an audible trial. How's that for incentive! What have you got to lose?
Caveat: the book needs to be edited by a Catholic priest. Everything about the story was good, except for the Catholic religion. Three things stood out:
(1) Syd's sister was concerned that her brother wouldn't have a Catholic funeral because he committed suicide. Suicide is unacceptable. However, the church recognizes that many people have psychological, mental and emotional illnesses and may not be responsible for their actions. (CCC # 2282) Syd would have a Catholic funeral.
(2) Father Frank's sister, Maggie came to him because her husband didn't want any children. In the marriage ceremony, Catholics make a solemn vow to be open to having children. If Maggie's husband won't give her children, that's grounds for an annulment. He lied when taking his vows.
(3) Father Frank is a nice guy but in not explaining that Syd could have a Catholic funeral and that his sister could annul her marriage (Not that she was asking that, but the priest missed an opportunity to teach the faith.), he missed a couple of opportunities to evangelize. The author missed the opportunity. I liked the book. I would have loved the book if the author also used his gift of writing to explain the faith. It would be nice for James Callan's purpose in writing to be to entertain with a good story and also evangelize. The author certainly has the skill to do that.