As you might imagine, a book titled “At the Hour of Our Death” suggests murder with some Catholic undertones. It does, but before I go a little further understand that my purpose was to blow up traditional genres. I didn’t want to write, for example, Christian fiction. No offense, but it’s not my cup of camomile.
So here’s the plot:
Micah Connacht is a jaded priest facing a personal crisis: Why is it that nobody seems to tell him the truth? When “Father Mick” discovers a girl has been murdered near his church and the police force would rather blame the victim than solve the crime, he embarks on a dangerous quest to find the killer in a city that likes being dirty. Inspired by noir mysteries, “At the Hour of Our Death” explores what happens when a cynical society gives up hope, and maybe even welcomes death.
So now that I’ve explained what it is, I also want to let you know what it’s not.
I’m not trying to get you to go to my church or any house of faith. You’re grown. That’s your call.
I’m not trying to disrespect the Catholic Church, either. I’m rather happy being Catholic. Also, I’m not the protagonist. Many of you know me. The idea that I’m holier than thou? Pffft!
But having read many religious texts, having spent time in a number of houses of faith and having interviewed a number of men and women who lead believers, I’ve often been struck by a certain level of naïveté. Not in whether there is a God. But to how cold the world really can get.
The lifestyle that a dedicated man of the cloth leads tends to be sheltered, almost suffocating. A Catholic priest, for instance, doesn’t drive to work. He lives on church grounds. He helps with the school, leads daily services, confessions, leads fundraisers for those in need, visits the infirm and imprisoned, studies diligently for the upcoming weekend Masses and also has to answer to Church hierarchy. In my opinion, many priests have a sincere desire to help, but are on the periphery of society and simply didn’t have time to walk the streets.
It’s also a lonely and awkward life. Maybe they get too accustomed to being inside that bubble to experience how society actually behaves.
I think that’s why so many people — including atheists — are so moved by Pope Francis. They may not buy church doctrine, but they see a man who ignores the trappings and opulence of the Vatican and wants to empathize with human suffering. It’s inspiring.
But otherwise, there is a disconnect. It’s where being book smart and street wise are severed, not that the streets are paved with wisdom.
So what happens when a priest, who already suspects people aren’t being genuine with him, is spurred to hide the collar and find out how real the streets can get?
Would he lose faith in God? Would he lose faith in people?
And if he catches the villain, what next?
“At the Hour of Our Death” is a tight 255 pages. I hope it is ambitious enough to resonate with you after its conclusion — which I think you will find startling. And it’ll be available on a tablet or smartphone within reach by the end of the June.
I hope you enjoy it.