Wednesday, April 21, 2010

St Anthony Messenger review of BLEEDER

BLEEDER, by John Desjarlais. Sophia Institute Press. 272 pp. $14.95

Reviewed by JEAN HEIMANN, freelance writer, retired educator, psychologist and oblate with the Community of St. John.

IT'S NOT OFTEN that you come across a book that captures your full attention on an emotional level, and challenges you intellectually and spiritually, too. Bleeder was such a book for me.
In Bleeder, we are introduced to Reed Stubblefield, a classics professor on sabbatical. He is recovering not only from the physical wounds of a gunshot accident in a school shooting, but also from the emotional wounds of his wife's recent death. He retreats to a rural Illinois cabin to write a book on Aristotle.

But the town of River Falls is filled with the ill and infirm—all seeking the healing touch of the town's new parish priest, reputed to be a stigmatic. Skeptical about religion since his wife's death from leukemia, Reed is reluctantly drawn into a friendship with the priest, Father Ray Boudreau, an amiable Aquinas scholar.

Then the priest collapses and bleeds to death on Good Friday in front of horrified parishioners. Is it a miracle or is it a bloody murder? Reed needs to know because the police say he is the prime suspect.

Once Reed is identified as the prime "person of interest" in the mysterious death, he seeks to discover the truth with the help of an attractive local reporter and Aristotle's logic.
In his third novel, author John Desjarlais presents the reader with an exciting and suspense-filled mystery that is difficult to put down. A gifted writer, Desjarlais captures the reader's attention from the very first page with his sharp imagery, gripping plot, vivid characters, amazing climax and satisfying conclusion.

Bleeder uses sharp imagery, which is descriptive yet concise. For example, Desjarlais writes: "Two squad cars blocked the street at both ends, their blue and red lights flashing like votives."

In this mystery written in the first person, Desjarlais introduces us to a variety of well-crafted and colorful characters as he works through clues and dead ends, casting suspicion on a number of people, challenging readers to ponder their motives and to try to guess "whodunit."

What makes Bleeder uniquely Catholic is that, in addition to the practical mystery contained in the plot, there is a mystery that Desjarlais delves into on a higher level—the spiritual level— which he explores through the suffering that Reed Stubblefield, Father Boudreau and other characters encounter. In Bleeder, Desjarlais contemplates the mystery of "undeserved suffering" from a Catholic point of view.

Bleeder is an exciting and thought-provoking Catholic mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that I highly recommend for all adults.

Monday, April 19, 2010

WANB interview

I'l be interviewed Tuesday April 20 at 11 am Eastern on WANB AM 1580, Waynesburg, Pa.

Monday, April 12, 2010

d-review of BLEEDER

Nice review of BLEEDER at d-review:
John Desjarlais’s “Bleeder” is a delightful page turner with full of twists and appealing characters to make it a complete mystery thriller. This novel is an action packed adventure though not as gory as the title might sound.
The protagonist in this novel is a professor, on sabbatical, Reed Stubblefield. After being wounded physically by a student’s shot and mentally by his wife’s death, Reed moves on to his brother's home at a small town in Illinois where he finds himself surrounded by many believers and sick pilgrims who have come to get cured by a stigmatic priest, Father Ray. Reed’s skepticism and curiosity leads him to an unusual relationship with Fr. Ray. The main event of the story is death of Fr. Ray during the Good Friday service, which makes Reed the prime suspect. The death of the beloved priest and its consequences will make Reed to question his long held beliefs and philosophies. Reed’s search for the real killer, the secret behind Fr. Ray’s death and other mysteries won’t let you put this book down.
This book is an enthralling work of fiction. It also includes lots of quotations from Aristotle as Reed is writing a book on him, which enhances the reading experience. Also the Catholic background helps in developing a great effect as the mystery unfolds.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Sophia Institute Press.)

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radio call-in show tonight

I'll be on tonight, Wed 4/7, at 7-7:30 pm Central for a call-in show. Fee free to call 800-405-6425 with a question about BLEEDER, writing in general, faith and fiction, whatever.

Oh, and that last review I posted is from - I omitted the 'the'. Sorry.

Monday, April 5, 2010's take on BLEEDER

Reviewed by Larry W. Chavis


Devastated by the loss of his wife to leukemia, partially crippled and traumatized by a school shooting, Aristotle scholar and professor Reed Stubblefield seeks the peace of his brother’s hunting cabin in downstate Illinois to recuperate and write a book on Aristotle. Arriving in rustic River Falls, though, he finds all the area camps and lodgings crowded with people - sick and injured people, who have come to see the local Catholic pastor, a priest who is said to bear the Stigmata, and to be a healer. In spite of his own evident antipathy to any involvement in what he considers to be pure superstition, Reed discovers that his brother has arranged matters so that Reed’s meeting with the priest is inevitable. What follows is a bit of subtle intellectual give-and-take between the two, until the shocking demise of Father Ray during Good Friday services, a death that may or may not be murder.

The book is published by an imprint that, in its own words, ” … seeks to restore man’s knowledge of eternal truth …” and Christian thought, specifically Catholic thought, does inform the book. Yet Desjarlais is able to have his characters address deeply human issues in a manner that is in no sense heavy-handed or preachy. The college professor finds a kindred scholarly spirit in Father Ray, and is able to build a relationship on that basis apart from any religious connections, though he is, perhaps, able to address the void that has existed within since his wife’s death from a new angle as a resulting of knowing the priest. In the end, there is no grand conversion … merely deeper thought and consideration, perhaps an openness that he hasn’t had before.

The mystery around which all the events revolve is twofold - is Father Ray a stigmatic and healer, and was his death murder? These two questions are kept before the reader as the plot develops, through a young reporter seeking her big break in the stories surrounding Father Ray. The plot resolves both questions in what I felt was a satisfactory manner, and in keeping with the atmosphere of the story.

While the book does have as background a Catholic motif, it tells a story that transcends any particular set of beliefs, and is a good mystery besides.

Copyright ©2010 Larry W. Chavis