Author: Jack Frerker
“Monksbane” is the fourth mystery novel in this series, featuring Father John Winterman, a diocesan priest. In this book, Father Winterman is on a retreat at a Benedictine monastery, seriously attempting to come to terms with what he believes to be the “injustice” of God. This relates to things that have happened within his own parish – deaths which he feels did not “need” to happen. He is assisted in his journey of discovery by one of the retired Benedictine monks, Father Peter.
On the first morning of his retreat Father Winterman comes across an elderly Benedictine monk, unconscious on the floor of the walkway between the abbey’s main floor and the church. He calls for help, and the monk is taken to the hospital. The real question … how did this happen? And is someone from within the Benedictine community involved! Brother Robert was an older monk, a former teacher who was now dealing with Alzheimer’s. He was a gentle soul, who choose to speak in very archaic English, which could get on the nerves of his fellow monks –especially the younger one. One more thing – Brother Robert also has a severe allergy to peanuts. Will this be his undoing?
I loved this story, in that it really is a story … actually, it is several stories, intertwined, held together by the mystery surrounding Brother Robert. We read about the Benedictine society, and see a bit of how it functions. We also read about the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and how their connection with Priest Point Park in Washington State (a state that I have lived in for many years). We see that the generational gap exists in the religious world, just as it does in the secular world. We see the majesty that is the Pacific Northwest, and the place that Saint Martin’s (the Benedictine University) plays in all of this.
What is important in this book is the relationship between the monks, between the monks and other religious orders, and the monks and lay people. Reading this book, one understands fully the concept of “seven degrees of separation”.
Interspersed throughout the book is religious commentary – not overwhelming the mystery, but finding its proper place in it. I give this book high marks both as a mystery, and as a well thought out piece of religious commentary.
© June 2012 Bonnie Cehovet