Lacked the emotional impact expected from such a story

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Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally

Book Review:  3 out of 5 star rating

Father Frank Docherty seems to attract controversy. He’s a good man and a good priest but his beliefs are sometimes at odds with the Catholic Church.  He was banished from the Australian church in the sixties due to his religious beliefs and he truly wants to return to Australia and their church so he can be near his aging mother.  But events come about that bring him into direct confrontation with the same Cardinal he’s trying to win favor with.  He’s become aware of several incidents of child abuse by a now well-known and respected monsignor.  His conscience won’t allow him to turn a blind eye to these horrendous betrayals of trust.

I had a bit of a problem getting into this book.  In the beginning there are somewhat long essays about church dogma that I didn’t find particularly interesting.  There was nothing in there that was new to me.  And at times the book read almost like case studies instead of a novel.  I found the beginning to be quite dry and didactic.  It took a while for the character of Father Docherty to grow on me.  Certainly the stories of the child abuse and the way the church tried to cover it up were very shocking and disturbing.  But I wasn’t drawn into the story line until late in the book.  Once I was pulled into the story, I enjoyed it more.  I remember reading “Schindler’s List” with much more emotion than I did this one.  His newest book lacked the emotional impact that I had expected from such a story.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and am under no obligation to review it.

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Engrossing personal memoir and murder case

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The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevick has always been against the death penalty, that is until she heard the confession of Ricky Langley, the molester and murderer of a 6-year-old child, Jeremy Guillory. Her reaction surprises her and causes her to want to learn all she can about this particular case.  She feels a strong connection to these people and events and basically becomes obsessed with this case and Langley’s life.  Over the course of ten years, she studies every document she can get her hands on.  She even arranges to visit Ricky Langley.  As she delves into Ricky’s life and family, it opens her up more to the facts surrounding her owned troubled history.  Her family has many secrets that they have struggled for years to bury, including the author’s own molestation by her grandfather when she was a child.

I could not pull myself away from this disturbing but fascinating non-fiction book. This is two books in one that the author has marvelously intertwined into an engrossing tale.  The memoir of the author’s personal story is brutally honest and raw.  Her reporting of the murder case and the entire life of Ricky Langley is completely absorbing.  I’ve never read either a memoir or a murder case study that was such a literary marvel.  The author has created a literary work that is a hybrid composed of two different genres that she expertly weaves together into a coherent whole.   One part never overcomes the other and both stories meld together beautifully.  She’s a very impressive author.

This is a book about forgiveness, secrecy, truth, the bond of family, memory and justice. It’s haunting, it’s heart breaking, it’s disturbing and it’s completely mesmerizing.  Highly recommended.

I won this book in a contest given by the publisher and have no obligation to give a review.