Author: Father Jack Frerker
“Crosswords” is the seventh novel by Father Frerker, and the fifth in a series of mysteries featuring father Father John Wintermann. Set in the southern Illinois small town of Algoma, Father Wintermann is deeply enmeshed in his community, and his pastoral duties. He is a thoughtful, compassionate man, that has deep roots within the entire community. So why is he receiving crossword clues along with his daily newspaper?
At first he just doesn’t know what to make of them, but as they continue over time he begins to get a bit uneasy … uneasy enough to discuss them with the local sheriff, Larry Toler. Father Wintermann also enlists several young men from the community to be his eyes and ears, and encourages those he meets on his daily rounds to share any information on anything new going on in the community. It is from one of these sources that he hears about a new couple in town, the Dudenbostel’s.
There are many levels to this gentle, tightly woven mystery. We peek into the life of a small town pastor, and see beyond the workings of the church itself into the lives of those that really “are” the church, the ones that represent it to the community, and make it a functioning part of the community. We see compassion at work, and how we each do have choices in our decision making process. We see how inter-related the lives of a community really are. We see how the past created the present, and how the present is the doorway into the future.
I love crossword puzzles, so this book was a “given” that I would like! The cover shows the title as part of a crossword puzzle, which made me smile. The play on words throughout the book, and the different ways that “crosswords/cross words” can be interpreted, made my mind kick in. The backstory of an elegant monument in the cemetery, without a cross at the top, and with only one body buried at its base was intriguing, as was the Polish ancestry of the body buried there. And how easily the rules of the community and the rules of the church can be mistaken for each other. And what serious consequences there can be!
This is a gentle mystery that is tightly woven, with well developed characters, a unique plot, and a few laughs along the way!
© October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet