With the plot of a priest in love with a woman who dies right after he confesses his love to her, you might be forgiven for thinking that “Tormented” is some kind of lurid story about priestly misdeeds. But, while priestly misdeeds do take place, the book is not titillating trash but a heartfelt story of a conflicted priest and a family in danger of being torn apart by tragedy.
I’m not Catholic (or Christian), so I doubt that I relate these kinds of stories the same way as someone within the church would, but the portrayal of Father Anthony’s struggles between his sincere faith and his equally sincere love for a married woman struck me as touching, not distasteful. The trappings of the Catholic Church, with its rosaries and incense and confessionals, are all there, but they work organically with the plot instead of being flaunted as exotic color. The characters are, for all the dramatic story that at times verges on the supernatural, natural and down-to-earth, with the 9-year-old daughter of the dead woman particularly charming and life-like. “Tormented” is a murder mystery, and the reader will want to find out just exactly who and how dunnit, but like Clayton-Goldner’s other works, it’s first and foremost a family drama, with the relationships between children and parents standing front and center. For fans of crime novels and literary fiction alike.
My thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.