Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Body Under the Bridge (A Father Gilbert Mystery) by Paul McCusker (2016)

This is one of those times when I didn't realize how much I missed something until it was given back to me.

I love Father Gilbert. And like most fans of the Focus on the Family radio series, Dead Air is my favorite episode, in all of its spine-tingling glory. So I'm thrilled to find that The Body Under the Bridge bears a strong connection to that episode, in fact, happening before it if we're going in a chronological order. Or after it if you don't care that at this point Father Gilbert has yet to solve the case of the girl who went missing in the Soho district and was the tipping point to him leaving the force and joining the church. Either way, doesn't matter, it's a great tie-in.

The regular cast of characters is ready and in place for this first in, I hope, a series of Father Gilbert Mysteries. From Mrs. Mayhew to Mr. Urquhart, this book is like visiting old friends that I haven't seen in a very long time. And of course, a small section of my heart has always been in love with Father Gilbert, enough to not care that he's on the written page and not spinning around in my ears wearing the voice of Adrian Plass. Although if Adrian were to ever agree to narrate this book series, I wouldn't argue. Hmm, Adrian?

There are some complaints that this is a very Catholic novel, that it's very dark, that it has evil supernatural elements, etc. Yes, all of that is true. However, never is evil greater than good, and at the grand climax where I could hardly breathe or put the book down for fear of Father Gilbert's life, God was there, and He worked miracles, the same as always. The tradition of the Anglican church is insightful and intrigues me immensely, and I find it's far wiser to be aware of supernatural evil than live in a fantasy world where it doesn't exist. So long as we remember Who's ultimately in control then we're all right.

Great job, Paul McCusker, and thank you, from the bottom of my heart for resurrecting a character that I have loved since the series first burst upon the airwaves when I was a teenager.