Thursday 16 May 2013

Book ~ "Beyond the Bridge" (2013) Tom MacDonald

From Goodreads ~ Dermot Sparhawk, a former all-American football star at Boston College, returns in Beyond the Bridge, the sequel to Tom MacDonalds award-winning debut novel, The Charlestown Connection. 

In Beyond the Bridge, Sparhawk, a struggling alcoholic, agrees to help find the killer of an accused pedophile priest. When two more priests are slain in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood, it becomes evident that it is the work of a sadistic serial killer who crucifies his prey after killing them. 

Sparhawk blazes an unconventional trail to the killer that puts him at odds with the very people he is trying to help and initiates a turf war with law enforcement. He gathers a cadre of unlikely allies, including a parish priest, a police lab criminalist, the district attorney and a state police lieutenant who help to rebuff attempts to derail him from the case. Then, with the help of his Micmac Indian cousin and his paraplegic tenant and former Boston College teammate, Sparhawk bulldozes his way to the truth, while putting his own life at risk.

Dermot is a former college football star whose days of glory are long behind him.  He shares a house with his aunt (they have separate apartments) and he runs a food bank for the Catholic diocese.  He is an alcoholic who has blackouts where he occasionally lands in the hospital or jail.

Priests start getting murdered and it's soon evident there is a serial killer on the loose.  The brother of one of the priests asks Dermot to prove his brother's innocence (the brother was accused of being a pedophile).  The diocese supports this and gets the DA and police's cooperation for Dermot.  As Dermot races back and forth across the state following hunches, more people die and Dermot wonders if he will be next.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I thought it was so-so.  I wanted to like it more but couldn't.

I thought the story was an interesting one ... I like murder mysteries.

The writing could have been tighter.  As a head's up, the language at times is for mature readers.

I found it unbelievable that Dermot is an alcoholic who works runs a food bank with no training or experience in investigation.  Yet the diocese puts their faith behind him to solve the murders.  In fact, the diocese is powerful enough to force the DA and Boston police force to provide Dermot with all the information they have.  Really??!!  In reality, this would be confidential.  During his blackouts, Dermot blabs the confidential information he knows yet there are no repercussions and he keeps getting more information from the police.

I thought the whodunnit was an interesting twist (I hadn't seen it coming) but I found it amazing that Dermot figured it all out and the police didn't have a clue.  I didn't really buy who was killing the priests considering who it was and all the lengths they'd gone to.

I found the obscure references to Nova Scotia interesting (that's where I'm from), though, so I wonder if the author has roots there.  Dermot's father was a "Micmac Indian" from a small town called Antigonish (I lived there for a few years) ... I found it odd that he specifically tells us what and where it is.  Dermot's cousin recruits a friend of his from there to help for a bit.  And he makes mention of Molson Canadian beer a few times.

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