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Thursday 12 November 2015

'Blood on a Saint' by Anne Emery

Published by ECW Press,
30 July 2015.
ISBN 978-1-77041-269-9

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Father Brennan Burke and lawyer Monty Collins are drinking buddies who become embroiled in a murder case which follows a religious revelation.  At Father Brennan's St Bernadette church a young woman announces that she has seen the Virgin Mary in the church yard causing many sightseers, souvenir sellers and reporters to converge on the scene.  As a result of the apparent sighting a talk show host decides to present his programme on the topic.  Father Brennan is deputed by the Catholic Church to appear on that programme to discuss the miraculous event with a university sociology professor. 

The programme host is an unpleasant individual called Pike Podgis.  Pike is physically unappealing, loudmouthed and presents a vulgar programme full of sexual innuendo.  The crudity of Pike's presentation style, however, is not the reason why the police arrest him.  He is arrested because he was seen leaving the churchyard just after a young woman was murdered there.  This involves Monty Collins directly in events as he becomes Pike's defence lawyer.  Monty finds Pike equally as nasty as Father Brennan does but both find themselves needing to investigate the events around the murder and the miraculous appearance. 

The story twists and turns through the people connected to Pike and the people who know the area around the church.  Confrontations between Pike and both the investigators occur regularly but, nevertheless, they both continue their work.  They cannot really discuss any findings because of their respective positions - the Irish priest must obey rules of the sanctity of the confessional while the lawyer must observe solicitor-client confidentiality. 

The finding of witnesses to the murder and its aftermath and to the character of the victim leads to helpful revelations and Collins and Burke are able to posit a scenario through appreciation of the actions behind the final death.  This book tells a rumbustious tale which has deep roots in the setting of Nova Scotia.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
There are 6 previous stories featuring Collins and Burke and an eighth is previewed at the end on of Blood a Saint.

Anne Emery was born in Halifax and grew up in Moncton. She is a graduate of St. F.X. University and Dalhousie Law School. She has worked as a lawyer, legal affairs reporter and researcher. Anne lives in Halifax with her husband and daughter.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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