BLESS ME FATHER
A man of God debates his next course of action when a penitent’s confession reveals startling information regarding a woman’s unsolved murder in this quiet mystery. A solid crime story sharing the spotlight with a priest’s family and nagging doubts. – KIRKUS Review
“Lou Saulino soulfully conveys the humanity and tribulations of a Catholic priest……as a man of God struggles with his sacred vows while facing the reality of a heinous transgression which indelibly impacted his personal life prior to his ordination.”
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*Book cover in video shows original cover prior to republishing.
A man of God debates his next course of action when a penitent’s confession reveals startling information regarding a woman’s unsolved murder in this quiet mystery.
Anthony “Tony” Calabrese’s plan to propose to Angela Santino in 1987 has a cruel denouement when she dies in a liquor store robbery. A shattered Tony joins the priesthood, also having lost his father to cancer and his prospective baseball career to an injury. By 2000, he’s a respected figure in his New York community while staying true to his vows, even if he’s a social drinker and a rather prolific gambler. But it’s on a cruise with his family that Tony finds himself fighting temptation. While mom Teresa gets cozy with widower Paul Bathgate, Tony can’t deny his attraction to Paul’s daughter, Donna Banks. His priestly pledges are once against tested when he volunteers to serve as a New York Police Department chaplain, and Patrolman Andy Miller hints at pertinent information regarding a recent liquor store robbery. Andy elaborates in a later confession that he may have details about a similar crime, the very one that killed Angela years ago. Tony wants his detective brother-in-law, Johnny Sullivan, and Donna’s forensic specialist brother, Jeremy, to reexamine the cold case. The priest struggles with a way to tell the cops about a possibly incriminating gun without breaking the Seal of Confession by which he’s bound. There’s so much nuance in the novel that the mystery, which opens the story, becomes a subplot. Saulino (Framily, 2014) aptly develops Father Tony’s family, everyone getting together often to chew over the ongoing World Series or favorite episodes of Seinfeld. The forbidden romance between Tony and Donna is also forever on the priest’s mind, all the more challenging once physical allure evolves into admissions of love. Tony learning of a probable suspect in Angela’s murder and his resultant dilemma, though certainly intriguing, never fully overtake the plot from the protagonist’s other troubles. Saulino, meanwhile, packs his narrative with gleefully torrid drama: there’s a reason Paul fails to mention he has a son, while a husband implies something less than innocent between his parishioner wife and Tony.
A solid crime story sharing the spotlight with a priest’s family and nagging doubts.
Sports historical fiction is a unique Brand. The integration of family, friendship, and my life experiences was envisioned as a style which would identify me as a writer. Three of four Published works, a trilogy of the continuing saga of three best friends since childhood, with settings commencing in the late nineteen fifties and progressing into the ninth decade of the twentieth century, followed this technique.
“8” Centerfield in New York, 1951-1957 was the inauguration of the concept, the account of the baseball exploits of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider told through the eyes of three thirteen year old best friends in 1957. Dopey Bastid followed and depicted the progression of the three comrades into adulthood, and coupled the review of dumb decisions in the sports world through the accounts of one of the three friends, now a sportswriter for the New York Daily News. The chronicle of sports and friendship concluded with FRAMILY (friends considered family), as the three good buddies have now all reconnected with their childhood mates and started families.
Kirkus Reviews has been impressed.
“Saulino is a talented story teller. And the way he mixes nostalgic sports stories with those of the group of friends is smart and inventive (Dopey Bastid).”
“Readers needn’t be sports fans to enjoy the work (FRAMILY); even those who are athletically challenged will be gripped by what is, at its heart, a tale of love.”
“the book (FRAMILY) is also immaculately researched , vividly recalling each play of each game like a great sports announcer.”
A fourth book, Athlete For Hire, explored the fictional travails of a creative sports team owner to sign a college phenom, proficient in baseball, football and basketball, to play for all three of his professional sports franchises. This novel was originally written as a TV Pilot and is also being promoted for the big screen.
So now we come to Bless Me Father. Why the Brand modification? Hey, what the hell do I know? My professional background is civil engineering and I continue to practice on a part-time basis after 40 years spent between the public and private sectors, almost predominantly on an executive level. A mystery, with just a minor backdrop into sports, just seemed the way to expand my reading audience.
I realized that it would be helpful to seek advice and a review by those outside of my inner circle of family and friends; and was quite fortunate to have intuitive input from a former Roman Catholic priest and two law enforcement professionals. A special thank you to Peter Olsinski , John Sullivan, an old friend and retired New York City Police Department Detective, and Cecile Woodward, the former Assistant Police Chief of the Phoenix Police Department. Thank you guys for the astute comments and suggestions from your personal life experiences.
The highly positive appraisal by KIRKUS REVIEW emboldened me, as did comments from a friend and working associate, Julia Schneider. “I devoured the book and it was delicious. The author has a real talent for character development. Just a few chapters in and I was emotionally invested in the cast.”