Friday 28 July 2023

Collared - Juliana Weber

Juliana Weber
ISBN 9781953610119

As a debut novel this was very impressive. It is an intense thriller nearly from the beginning. And the plot races through to the end. In many ways it reminds me of Tom Clancy’s earlier works. The difference is the heroes in this story are a young priest, a few Knights of Columbus, and detective willing to lose his job by doing the right thing. The description of the story is:

“Father Paul is assigned to heal a parish scandalized by the former pastor’s involvement in underage sex trafficking. A gifted yet new priest, Father Paul gains the survivors’ trust and hears their stories, bringing healing and fatherly love. As he listens, he inadvertently puts together the clues to bring down the trafficking ring, one so lucrative that even the police are afraid to touch it. Or are some of the police in on the take?

Like every church, this one is full of suspicious characters, and someone nearby is clearly trying to harm Father Paul. The pastor endures all the usual church politics and ministry mayhem, while he races to bring down the crime ring. Can he stop the traffickers before they collar their next round of victims? Or will the traffickers be the ones to stop him?”

This story is a suspenseful page turner. It is a thriller with great depths. And it is a story that is both hard to read and yet provides hope. A priest called to a parish after the former priest died in jail, a sex trafficking ring that seems to span the state, a small town, and four faithful men Knight of Columbus trying to crack a case no one seems interested in actually solving. Somewhat like Andrew M. Greeley’s fictional Blackie Ryan, Father Paul seems to depend upon the gifts God has given him in all aspects of his life and ministry. His ability to read people and guide conversations is proving invaluable in his new assignment helping the small town of Limekiln heal, especially the four girls who has become victims of a trafficking ring, and even been visited by their former priest in that ring. There is healing to be done at Sacred Heart Prep, at Sacred Heart Parish and in the wider community. But not everything or everyone is as they first appear to Father Paul. And soon he realizes who he can actually trust, and depend on. And he is discerning who needs his help and how best to help. In some ways this story reads like a fictional version of Sound of Freedom starring Jim Caviezel. But with a priest leading the charge and tying the pieces together so they can try and finally stop the ring.

The story is intense. And at times it was hard to read. Knowing it was fiction only helped so much knowing that these sorts of things happen and happen far more often than we would want. You will find yourself drawn in and greatly appreciating Father Paul, Deloris, Luke and many others. The characters in this story are masterfully written. The pace is excellent. And the action at times very intense.

There is no bio of the author at the end of the book, and I could not find any social media accounts. I can only state again as a debut novel it was very impressive. It is well written. The writing is clean and crisp. The plat is clean and tight. And the characters as mentioned are excellent. This is a volume I can easily recommend. It is a great read and I will be keeping my eye out for future works from the pen of Weber. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

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