Christian D. Orr review continued…

The three main characters are three old childhood friends who grew up together in Southern California: Tom Moran, who eventually becomes an LAPD detective and Lieutenant, Giovanni “Gio” Lozano, who grows up to be a Catholic priest, and Gio’s brother Giuseppe “Sep” Lozano, who ends up as an extremely wealthy entrepreneur cum U.S. Senate candidate. It’s interesting to see that the author, his real-life ministerial background notwithstanding, decided to Tom the cop, a lapsed Catholic and agnostic no less(!) as the first-person protagonist rather than Gio the priest. However, if you know the author personally like I do, you will still see that there is a quite a bit of Fr. Bill’s real-life personality traits built into Fr. Gio (such as his belief in universal salvation, disbelief in the existence of Hellfire and the Devil, and his eschewing of much of the formality of the priesthood).

The old childhood friends are reunited, in a manner of speaking, by a horrific tragedy, the mysterious and shocking murder of Giuseppe’s wife and three children (the
Consequential Murder referenced in the subtitle of the novel). Tom Moran ends up leading the investigation, struggling with keeping his personal feelings and sense of loss from interfering with his professional duty. And is if the murder weren’t disturbing enough in and of itself, it takes an even more disturbing and sinister turn….and (at the risk of a bit of a spoiler here), it ended leaving me with a bit of an eerie feeling on unfinished business—but as the saying goes, “Them’s the breaks,” as unlike in Hollywood, not every murder case is always solved in such a cut-and-dried manner.

Speaking myself as a former criminal investigator (albeit at the Federal level as opposed to a local/municipal level of law enforcement), the author did a pretty accurate job of describing investigative procedures—of course, it helped having a real-life LAPD resource, my old buddy and former fellow USC Catholic Center parishioner Adolfo Batres (noted in the book’s Acknowledgements section) as a resource. And from my personal experience, I can empathize with the protagonist’s desire to avoid the FBI’s seemingly insatiable desire to meddle in, and take over, the high-profile case; it’s not just local L.E. agencies that are leery of FBI involvement, other Federal agencies aren’t too keen on the Fat Boys Institute. Back when I was a student at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), my instructors poked at the FBI whenever and wherever I could; indeed, I had one instructor who *was* a former FBI agent, and, true to stereotype, he was the most arrogant, condescending, and sense of humor-challenged of all the instructors I met at the schoolhouse.

And my aforementioned political differences with the author and the protagonist alike notwithstanding, it looks like Fr. Bill, Lt. Moran, and I concur on disdain and distrust for the mainstream media; my single favorite line in the book is on p. 184 wherein he refers to those vultures as “a bunch of f*cking *$$holes.” Spot-on!
I just have a few technical nitpicks from the standpoint of a lifelong firearms enthusiast who has been studying ballistics for 25 years:
(1) “With the suppressor attached, the only audible sound was the slide of the chamber clip ejecting the bullet casing.” The slide is indeed the name of the part of an auto pistol that cycles back and forth atop the frame (receiver), but it is the ejector that spits the empty casing out of the ejection port; “chamber clip” is not a correct piece of firearms nomenclature.
(2) Two of the victims are shot in the head, while two are shot in the heart. On page 175, the author/protagonist says that “these were not messy or gory murders” and that the deaths were “painless and instantaneous.” Actually, as a close personal friend of mine who’s a recently retired LAFD Paramedic (25 years on the job, and among other things received the Medal of Valor from the Department for saving the life of a young boy victimized by the shooting at a North Valley Jewish Center back in 1999) pointed out to be, head wounds tend to bleed profusely. Moreover, head shots do not necessarily kill instantly, until the bullet strikes the medulla oblongata (brain stem). And last but not least, heart shots are no guarantor of instant death either; it’s a medically proven fact that, provided there is a sufficient amount of oxygenated blood in the brain, a person shot in the heart can move and fight for up to 14 seconds.

Those nitpicks aside, an excellent first effort by William P. Messenger, highly recommended, and I hope to see more novel from him in the future. God bless and Fight On, Fr. Bill!