Several days after a world-renowned Catholic theologian meets a parish priest and 13-year-old altar boy at a church in San Diego, the young boy dresses in the vestments he wears during Mass and jumps to his death from the top of the Coronado Bridge.
When the theologian learns about the suicide and discovers the boy killed himself to avoid any further sexual abuse by his parish priest, the theologian blames himself for not having recognized their pedophilic relationship. Distraught, the theologian seeks the advice of an expert on pedophilia, an elderly priest who has spent his entire life working as a paraclete, or advocate for impaired priests.
Aided by a better understanding of sexual predators in the priesthood and the accidental discovery of a naturally-occurring seed that contains a poison more lethal than ricin, the theologian returns to San Diego and visits the parish priest. His visit sets off a veritable epidemic of unexplained deaths among pedophilic priests in America.
Discovering a pattern to the unexpected deaths and suspecting the theologian is a serial killer, a veteran FBI special agent, whose husband was sexually abused by a priest as a child, finds herself in the middle of a moral dilemma. Watching from the sideline is a beautiful nun who is having a love affair with the theologian.
(Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and are honest and unbiased.)
The Paraclete by Bernard Leo Remakus, M.D. wasn’t quite the read I thought it would be. That's not entirely a bad thing. Based on the summary, I expected more mystery, tension, and action. Instead, there was a lot of focus on church doctrine and history, which was interesting in its own way and would have been more appreciated had I expected it. The Paraclete was still a good read . . . just a slow one.
The pace didn't pick up until more than halfway through, when the actual mystery made itself known, and given the size of the book, that took quite a while. In fact, I almost lost the plot in all the lengthy dialogue, lectures, and romance. Much of the book tended to meander. The first three-quarters or so was good for staging the mystery and getting to know the characters, it was just somewhat dry.
That said, there was a lot I enjoyed about The Paraclete. I appreciated the amount of research Remakus must have invested in this novel. Remakus expertly tackled many difficult topics. I was very invested in the well-developed characters, and once the mystery gained steam, this read was hard to put down. Remakus kept me guessing, and the somewhat ambiguous ending added a welcome little twist.
In a nutshell, I would definitely recommend The Paraclete, but only to those interested in a slow moving murder mystery with a strong focus on character study.
Content warning: This work contains themes of mental illness and death, including homicide and suicide. There are also mentions of sexual abuse, including of children.
About the Author
BERNARD LEO REMAKUS, M.D. is a native of
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He received his B.S. degree from King's College, M.Ed.
degree from East Stroudsburg State College, and M.D. degree from the
Temple University School of Medicine. He completed a three-year
residency in internal medicine at Abington Memorial Hospital and is
certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Remakus has practiced Internal Medicine in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania for 40 years. During that time, he has published five novels, The Paraclete, Keystone, The Lame Duck, Mia, and Cassidy's Solution; three works of non-fiction, The Malpractice Epidemic, Medicine from the Heart, and Medicine between the Lines; and one screenplay, Mia. He has also published more than 200 articles in the medical literature. From1991 to 2002, he was the featured columnist and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Internal Medicine World Report.
When not practicing medicine or writing, Dr. Remakus serves as a professional speaker. He has previously served as an Assistant Professor at the Health Science Center of the State University of New York and Temple University School of Medicine. He has also performed clinical drug research, worked as a medical examiner and consultant, and coached his local high school baseball team to a league championship and four post-season district playoff appearances in six seasons.
The recipient of numerous awards and citations, Dr. Remakus received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. He is listed in multiple "Who's Who" publications, including Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare.
Dr. Remakus and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for 46 years. Their three children, Chris, Ali, and Matt, are all physicians. Their son-in-law, Mark, is also a physician, and their daughter-in-law, Sanda, is a Ph.D. in medical microbiology. Their grandchildren are Jake, Betsy, Anabelle, and Charlie.