Friday, July 20, 2018

A Body to Bones by Donan Berg - A great series beginning!

Spring of 1954

The quiet is broken by the slide of the wooden door to open the portal of St. Marty's confessional. A thin, unlined, purple velvet cloth hides the female penitent's identity from the priest, each in their own private space, permitting only voices to be heard. A hint of hair spray scents the air.
"Bless me, Father Murphy, for I have sinned."
"Yes, go on."
"I don't know what to say...where to start. I felt new life growing within me. At first, there was denial. I am married, but my husband was not the father. I did not tell anyone, not even the father. I suspect the real father does not even know what he created. I worry that my secret will be exposed, and many close to me will be subject to community disgrace, scorn, and scandal. I have failed in other ways to live by what my mother believed in and taught me. I fretted that I was not worthy to be her daughter. Then I was confronted with the anguish of knowing that God will let this baby grow to be born, with the magnitude of all the consequences that I cannot hide. I have been drowning in guilt. I have to make a decision. I had to act somehow. Then God intervened. For my sin, God took two young lives, including my innocent daughter, my own flesh and my blood. He cut out my ability to conceive more children."
"As humans, we never fully understand God's great plan. As God's family, we must believe He's compassionate. There is a sacred trust. For your--"
Before the priest can end this confession, he hears:
"One life extinguished was the result of an unholy union. Its death does not unburden me. My failure to be morally strong and my failure to honor my mother do not go away. I feel ashamed, conflicted. I cannot be truthful. To speak out will only bring shame, chastisement, and hurt the persons I love who live, or the memory of those departed. It's hard to hold it all inside, to not let the lies be seen, to hear all the pain in secret behind an accepted facade."
"Yes," the priest coughs before continuing. "We all, including me, have secrets from other humans but not from God. We must believe in Him, seek His forgiveness, and above all, pray to Him and believe in His everlasting life. Now, for strength and your penance, say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys after saying your prayer of contrition."
The confessional portal sliding door is unexpectedly pulled closed the only way it can be--from the inside.

     Ten years later...

"Oliver...Where are you? I can't see you." Oscar hears his friend's voice echo behind him. Cobwebs stick to Oscar's hands and face as he creeps forward into darkness. He feels an insect crawl across his forehead, he shakes his head. "Ouch," he yells, his head now hurts.
"Oscar, I'm scared. Let's go home. Where are you?" shouts Jim.
"I found something. It feels weird."
Oscar does not comprehend the magnitude of what he discovers, its potential to bring a killer out of hiding to strike again, or a past connection to the penitent and her confession ten years prior.

A Body to Bones:
First Skeleton Series Mystery

By Donan Berg

Reading the Prologue of Berg's first book certainly will grab readers and have them continue to learn what happens! Ten years has passed for Sarah Hamilton with a burden hanging over her... Clearly she had not yet felt God's forgiveness for her act... I have often thought that God sees our contrite heart and forgives us long before we are able to fully accept that... Then, too, what of the man who had been involved? Had he even thought to seek forgiveness, especially when we later learn, that Sarah was not the only woman with whom he had been involved... The small-town intrigue and gossip is alive and well in Clinton...

The morality of the characters in the novel plays an important part as, ten years later, a body is found...or should I say, bones of a body... For this skeleton had missing bones that soon became part of the mystery...

There was mystery in town this past
week as every citizen wondered about
the disappearance of Father Cornelius
Murphy, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic
Church of Clinton.
But before then, we learn more about the lives in Clinton a small town, of less than 900...for, of course, each is known and involved in some way in those events that the Pioneer Ledger shares to its readers once a week. Sarah and her husband are well-known and respected, and involved with local church activities.

Sarah Hamilton is married to the editor/owner. One of those moral issues she has suffered under was her mother's dictates of how a Christian woman should act. One definitely was that she should take care of the home and not work outside it. But the Hamiltons actually lived in the building where the newspaper was created and printed... and her husband really did need her help. So, while agreeing to help with the paper, once more she buried her personal feelings of guilt and sense of doing something wrong... I had great sympathy for this woman living very much like I did in a small town...

Throughout the story, the Hamiltons, not only because of their news-gathering activities, remain involved...We soon learn that there had been two disappearances around the mid-50s... One of them was the wife of the neighbor of the Hamiltons, who also owned a large warehouse in which the bones were later found. The other was the disappearance of a local priest...

The officials, including local and federal, do an excellent job in pulling the investigation together and the created characters add greatly to the enjoyment of the hunt for whodunit! And the possible villains, including even Sarah, are explored as we learn more about the bodies, keeping us guessing. My intuition was right again, but the author keeps readers on the edge until almost the end of the book, as Sarah faces danger from the killer!

I was pleased how the author allowed our main character's family to come together after all that had happened and we find a quite satisfactory ending after more than a decade of hidden secrets... A solid whodunit mystery that I highly recommend!


Donan Berg's romance novel "One Paper Heart" won the Feathered Quill First Place Gold Award. "Alexa's Gold," a mystery, romance thriller adds greater intrigue to his award-winning writing. Both are in e-book and trade paperback formats.
His entertaining mystery, heartwarming romance accolades include seven times in the winner's circle at the Dixie Kane Memorial Writing Contest.
A native of Ireland, he grew up in the United States Heartland where his life's journey has been as a print journalist, corporate executive, and lawyer. His U.S. Army service includes first-hand reports on the Korean Panmunjom truce talks while stationed with the United Nations Command.
While he'll never volunteer that he owns five pairs of well-used ballroom dancing shoes, he will happily trade apple tree stories. He provides book clubs and his mysteries intrigue readers with memorable characters and storyline twists sprung with gusto.
He believes imagination accents positive desires and, if nurtured, can fulfill the secret dreams living inside all of us.

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