Fiction 2019 / 424 pages
Genre: Thriller & Suspense
A Rose From the Executioner
Former Catholic priests are turning up dead around Chicago. One CPD detective soon learns just how far some will go for revenge, years later.
New to the work of Edward Izzi, I relied heavily on the dust jacket synopsis for this one, which pulled me in quickly. The same can be said for this fast-paced mystery that mixes great police work with the darkest aspects of the Catholic Church in America. When an old man is found murdered in his basement, Detective Phillip Dorian is called in to help some of his Chicago PD colleagues. The body has been completely gutted and a single rose sits in the pool of blood. The man’s backstory is clean as can be, which baffles everyone. His work with the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese does not raise any flags either, baffling Dorian as he seeks to piece the case together. It is only when a life insurance policy in the amount of $5 million comes to light that things get a little questionable. It would seem the Archdiocese has many of these policies on their former priests, said to be a means to help with the insurmountable costs of settling sexual abuse cases. As Dorian digs a little deeper, he discovers that his victim might not be as pristine as first thought, though the Church refuses to cooperate by revealing what they know. Meanwhile, the Monseigneur assigned to Chicago’s cardinal has been in touch with the local crime family to see about a ‘hitman for hire’ scenario, where those who possess some of the aforementioned policies might meet an untimely death. This juicy tidbit reaches Dorian, though he is stonewalled the more he tries to learn. When more old men turn up dead, Dorian cannot help but wonder if there is someone targeting pedophile priests. Slow going, Dorian is all but forced off the case, even as he discovers what might be a secret society working within Chicago, so off the radar that even members do not know one another. As the case gains momentum and clues begin to come together, Dorian will have to hope that he has cracked the pattern before more men turn up dead. Izzi stuns readers with the complexities of this story, though it remains highly readable. Recommended to those who enjoy multi-faceted crime thrillers that leave little time to rest, as well as the reader who can handle raw focus on Catholic sexual abuse cover-ups.
I had no idea that this is the type of story that would emerge from this book. I am not complaining in the least, but it is by no means a light or easy read. The reader is subjected to a great deal of raw and intense writing by Edward Izzi, who lays it all out there and lets things progress as they will. Phillip Dorian appears to play the protagonist role, trying to crack this case wide open and working under veils of secrecy and pressure from the Church to let things be. Izzi develops his protagonist with some interesting backstory, a divorced man with children and a grandchild, who still has a strong connection to the Church, but puts work ahead of all else. His attention to detail can sometimes work in his favor, though he has his own foibles, which the reader will discover. He is thorough, which helps as the case progresses. Others who complement Dorian help move the story along well. There are numerous heroes and a handful of horrible men who grace the pages, as Izzi seeks to paint both sets as completely as possible. The story itself is stunning in its detail and degree of disturbance. Izzi chooses to pull the veil back and—at times—graphically discuss some of the abuse that occurred in years past at the hands of the priests. Izzi develops certain flashback chapters that tell of different happenings, which ties in nicely with the modern story. The addition of this secret society is told in such a wonderful manner that the reader can almost feel as though they are present throughout. The narrative is kept strong and the momentum does not let up, powered by short chapters full of information. If I had a single concern, it would be the order in which some of the chapters are presented. Without revealing too much, there is a semi-chronology needed to impact the ‘abuse’ and the ‘resolution’ for the reader, though Izzi has a few chapters that refer to the aforementioned society that are out of place and leave a portion of the story somewhat jagged. There are sure to be some who feel Izzi relies too much on the stereotypical views of the Church and priests, though this view has been substantiated by many over the years. His raw and blunt writing shines a light on something that has—and remains—a thorn in the side and needs attention.
Kudos, Mr. Izzi, for a fabulous piece. I cannot say enough about it and hope others find this read just as riveting.