|Father Michael Driscoll has been all but cloistered in his small desert
mission church. Despite his past, he has been quite content ministering to the needs of his parish and helping to maintain the historic building. A phone call from Ireland changes that and sends Michael on a mission that could dramatically end his new way of life forever.
Michael’s former lover Lydia begs for his help. He steals money from the parish and books a flight to Ireland where he learns that he is too late and that Lydia has been murdered. Michael begins to investigate her murder, despite warnings from attractive police inspector Claire Burke. He soon finds himself exactly where he never wanted to be, back in the midst of the two feuding sides of his family, the O’Driscolls in Ireland, led by matriarch Maeve, and the Driscolls of Boston, whose dying patriarch, Michael’s father Brian, is watching as his two sons, Aiden and Kevin, struggle for control of their empire and fight their ruthless Irish cousins.
Drug distribution on both sides of the Atlantic, questionable businesses hiding income to avoid taxes and the fixing of the Powerball lottery are all things Michael’s family has become involved in. These are all things he wanted to get away from, and they may cost Michael his life as he searches for justice for Lydia and some peace of mind for himself.
Family Sins is a fairly predictable family crime novel, set against the Boston and Dublin landscapes. The characters are recognizable, as is Michael’s struggle with where he came from and what he once was as he tries to balance his new life. Michael is a very human character as he easily recognizes his own shortcomings and weaknesses and struggles with his humanity, a characteristic priests in novels often disavow. Michael is very willing to own up to his past, but desperately wants to put it behind him. He usually can - except for his one weakness, Lydia.
As the plot travels from one side of the Atlantic to the other, the pace doesn’t drag as the two plotting family’s stories unfold, intersect and then become one, as one side of the family tries to dominate the other. The story plays out almost as if the book was written for the big screen, with the action often larger than life.
Once family business is concluded and Michael has buried his dead, he sets out to right the people he has wronged and provide for the parish he left behind as he continues his journey searching for peace in this life. An unusually moral main character with very human longings, Michael is not overly preachy or pious, making him different from most heroes in this genre. Though the pace is quick, the plot is basic without too many surprises, making this a quick read, but an uninspired one.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry