Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mercy House by Alena Dillon

Mercy House
Welcome!  Murder in the Secret Maze by Judith Gonda comes out on February 26.  It is the debut of A Tory Benning Mystery series.  Revenge is Sweet by Kaye George releases on March 10.  It is the debut of The Vintage Sweets Mysteries.  Dead in the Doorway by Diane Kelly publishes on March 31.  It is the second novel in A House Flipper Mystery series.  Do these books appeal to you?  Are you a cozy mystery fan or prefer a mystery with a little more meat to it?
BedfordStuyvesant Brooklyn by /jstiles81/ J. Stiles Photographer | newyork newyorkcity newyorkcityfeelings nyc brooklyn queens the bronx staten island manhattan
Mercy House by Alena Dillon takes us to Brooklyn, New York in 2010.  Sister Evelyn along with Sister Maria and Sister Josephine created and run Mercy House which provides shelter to abused women.  The three nuns are a little unorthodox, but they are dedicated in their mission to helping women in need.  Bishop Robert Hawkins is coming Mercy House as part of the apostolic visitation, which is a nationwide Vatican-initiated investigation of the sisters.  The church wants to nuns to focus on church doctrine instead of social injustices.  Sister Evelyn is worried what Bishop Hawkins will uncover because the nuns do certain activities that are forbidden by the Catholic Church.  Bishop Hawkins took advantage of Sister Evelyn when she was a novitiate and it is something that still eats at her.  Sister Evelyn will do what it takes to keep Mercy House open for the women it serves and for the nuns who view it as home.  
Angel doorknocker
Mercy House by Alena Dillon is not what I expected.  The three nuns who run Mercy House are spunky and untraditional especially Sister Evelyn.  I like that they are helping abused women.  They work with the women to help them regain their confidence and begin a new life away from their abusers.  The residents of Mercy House are diverse and colorful.  Sister Evelyn is the primary narrator of the story with chapters featuring each of the girls living at Mercy House.  Sister Evelyn is sixty-nine years old and her body is feeling its age (aches and pains).  She is a no-nonsense type of woman who will protect the women under her care.  Sister Evelyn is a familiar figure in her neighborhood where she a network of informants and does what she can to improve situations. What the women have endured including Sister Evelyn is detailed in the book.  It may be hard for some people to read the details of the abuse.  There is also a substantial amount of foul language (even the nuns use it).  There is a significant focus on the Catholic Church and the injustices within it.  It does not critique the faith, but how things are handled.  The apostolic visitation mentioned in the book truly happened in the United States.  The book is trying to show that while the Church is focusing on the sisters who do good work (though not always following Church doctrine), it should take a hard look at the priests and other church officials who commit terrible crimes.  Mercy House contains good writing with a cast of unique characters.  The detailed descriptions provide visual imagery, but they do slow down the pacing of the story.  There is a lot going on in the book.  I wish Mercy House had been about the three sisters, Mercy House and the women they helped.  Mercy House is a graphic novel that did not appeal to me.  Bishop Hawkins is a malicious man who descriptions seems almost a caricature.  Unfortunately, I am sure that there are men like Bishop Hawkins in the Catholic Church.  I am fortunate to have a kindly bishop overseeing my diocese.  I felt like that author was picking on the Catholic Church.  Events that are depicted in the book do happen and it is terrible.  They should not be hidden or swept under the rug.  But I read fiction to get away from the news and real life.  The book contains a note from the author on her inspiration for Mercy House, an interview with Sister Suzanne Franck of St. Joseph’s College, and book discussion questions.  Mercy House is not my type of book, but many others do find it compelling.   Mercy House has a beastly bishop, a smart cracking sister, alarming abuse, sinful situations, and hair raising hijinks.  
Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church in Beverley Square East is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mercy House can be obtained through Amazon*.  If in doubt about a book, I suggest you obtain a sample.  That way you can see if the story suits you.  Thank you for dropping in today.  I will be a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Playing the Devil by R.J. Lee on February 13.  It is the second novel in A Bridge to Death Mystery series.  I will have an excerpt from Playing the Devil for you to read.  I hope you will join me.  May you have a capricious day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Benedictine Nuns
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