My excitement at seeing a new Father Gabriel book from Fiorella de Maria was akin to how some people I know will react when the new season of Stranger Things drops on Netflix.
First, there was the anticipation before it arrived by mail. (Why didn’t I just go for total instant gratification and get the Kindle version? I knew I’d want the actual book. There’s a joy in that. I embraced it.)
Then there was the opening of the package.
And then, then, there was the gazing upon it as I bustled along with my work, getting things done before my week off for the county fair.
Ah, the joy of reading it. The sweltering barn, the feel of straw permeating every strange part of my foot (socks and shoes can’t keep it out), the leaking of my tea onto my leg, the grime-covered and whiny-faced toddler…none of this could detract the sheer pleasure of once more following the adventures of Father Gabriel.
He’s the sort of man you want to bring over to dinner and maybe smack in the face. You get the feeling, at first, that maybe Fr. Gabriel’s not the brightest bulb, but don’t be fooled.
He’ll have you laughing even as you scratch your head. He’s not a character who’s really there to amuse you; he’s the main character in a mystery, so let’s not forget that we are solving important things here, figuring out the path of the plot, following along with what he’s had for dinner.
Because Fr. Gabriel likes his food. (And I do not blame him one little bit.) And he also just can’t seem to help it, getting muddled up in the midst of things.
There’s just so much to love about Fr. Gabriel.
How on earth did other detectives deal with their cases? Gabriel mused, as he dashed in the direction of the police station. The fact was that literary sleuths tended to be gentlemen with private means who had all the time in the world in which to indulge their curiosity. They could fight an intellectual battle for justice without having to worry about getting back in time for hearing confessions or training altar boys or comforting the dying. For that matter, how on earth had Father Brown managed it? A fine detective he certainly was, but what sort of shirker of a priest must he have been? When had he ever had to bother himself with the minutiae of parish life, with the souls of tiresome, whingeing old ladies and fatherless children, and reforming gamblers and wife beaters? Perhaps the world had simply been a more ponderous place before continents had descended once again into the mire of a world war when millions were still bearing the wounds of the last one.The Vanishing Woman: A Father Gabriel Mystery, by Fiorella de Maria
This is a lovely and delightful read, and I couldn’t help but bask a bit as I read it (despite the discomfort of the fair setting). Want to understand mercy and charity? Forget the theological books: Read a good story. (Dare I suggest this one?)
Highly recommended…and you may even be able to resist the temptation to stay up all night reading it… 😉
I’ve been reading Fiorella de Maria’s novels since her debut, Poor Banished Children. She’s an excellent wordsmith and an amazing storyteller. In case you’re interested in her other books, here’s a rabbit trail for you to follow:
- My review of The Sleeping Witness, the first Father Gabriel book, over at the National Catholic Register, along with a few other recommendations for summer reading.
- My review of Do No Harm at Integrated Catholic Life, and an excerpt from the same over at CatholicMom.com.
- My review of Poor Banished Children here at Snoring Scholar.
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