A wife murdered.
A killer at large.
A man of God with a painful secret.
When Tom Greer’s wife Joan was murdered and her killer never caught, he left Myerton determined to leave the painful memories behind. Ten years later, now-Father Tom Greer returns as the temporary pastor of Saint Clare’s Parish in Myerton–where he married and mourned his wife. Assigned there for four months, Father Tom’s only desire is to serve God’s people quietly then leave again. He has no desire to revisit the past.
But the past won’t leave Father Tom alone…
Secrets uncovered and a mysterious encounter in the confessional forces Father Tom to confront painful truths about Joan and her murder. When a police detective–a woman from Father Tom’s own past–refuses to reopen the case, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
It turns out to be a fateful decision, for Father Tom has secrets of his own…
Fans of Father Brown and PBS Masterpiece’s Grantchester will love this first book in a new mystery series featuring Father Tom Greer.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I got the idea of a man who became a Catholic priest after his wife's murder. A scene of their last dinner together came to me and I wrote it down. A year later, while I was recovering from treatment for prostate cancer, I sat down and wrote the book as a mystery where the priest returns to the place his wife was murdered and is forced to try to solve the crime.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The main character is inspired on other fictional priests (Father Brown, Father Dowling, Sydney Chambers from Grantchester), but I decided to make him untraditional by being older and previously married. That allowed for a richer exploration of themes of love, guilt, and forgiveness I touch on in the mystery.
I looked at the young boys and girls, books in hand, backpacks on their backs, walking to class or back to their apartments. It was not far from that spot that I had met Joan.
I had just started working at the college’s archives, my first job after getting my Master of Library Science degree. One day in early March I was walking along, not paying attention to where I was going–I was reading something, don’t remember what–when I walked into a young woman, knocking her down and sending a large drawing portfolio flying out of her hands. The portfolio had a broken zipper, and it was a windy day, so in the next moment drawings and watercolors began flying all over the place.
“Hey, clumsy oaf,” she yelled, “why don’t you watch where you’re going? Look what you’ve done!”
“I’m sorry,” I said, still trying to process who would use the phrase “clumsy oaf” in a small mountain town in the twenty-first century. “I’ll help you get them back.”
“Yes, you will,” she replied as she began chasing after her drawings. I followed after her, grabbing sketches and watercolors cartwheeling across the lawn, all the while keeping my eye on this woman. Unlike most of the female students and faculty on campus, she didn’t wear jeans; instead she wore a long denim skirt that flowed after her as she ran and was blown by the wind. That day she had paired it with a red turtleneck. Covering her long chestnut-brown hair was a wide-brimmed black cloth hat that managed to stay on, I later found out, through the use of a long and formidable looking hat pin.
We managed to get the drawings gathered up, and we sat on a nearby bench. I handed her my stack. “I hope they’re okay,” I said.
She looked at each one as she placed them back in the portfolio. “They look no worse for wear, no thanks to you.”
“I did say I was sorry,” I replied. She looked at me, her blue eyes still flashing irritation. I smiled, trying to disarm her. It worked, because her frown turned into a smile and her eyes softened.
“Well, thank you for helping me get them back,” she said. “I don’t have time to redo this project.” She stood up to go. “I’m Joan Luckgold , by the way.”
“Tom Greer,” I replied as I stood. We stood there on the sidewalk, students passing us on their way to or from classes, looking at each other.
“Okay,” Joan said, “I guess I’ll see you around campus.” She turned and took two steps away from me.
“Are you hungry?” I called out. She turned. “I mean, I haven’t had lunch yet, and I thought—”
“Come on,” she said, sweeping past me. Over her shoulder she said, “You’re buying.”
We wound up at Marlowe’s, a restaurant in a small Victorian house not far from campus. She had the Cobb salad, I had the tomato bisque and four-cheese grilled cheese. I didn’t know why I had asked her to lunch. I had been in a long-term relationship that had ended less than ideally, and I wasn’t looking for another one. But I had knocked her down, and I was responsible for her almost losing her artwork. Lunch seemed an appropriate apology. That’s all it was.
We were married a year later.
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