Former All-American football star Dermot Sparhawk has come a long way since his heyday at Boston College, and not in a positive way. He is now a struggling alcoholic who works at Saint Jude Thaddeus parish in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
After a priest was found crucified, Sparhawk was asked to check into the death. He had no more gotten started when two more priests were found crucified in a similar manner. Sparhawk determined a serial murderer must be killing the priests, but he did not understand how the killer was determining who should live and who should die.
During his investigation Sparhawks found similar murders happened thirty years ago. The only tie between the killings was that the victims were found wearing a red hood. The material used on the recent murders proved to be the same material as found on the victims years ago.
He also found that the deeper he went into the case, the more someone was trying to stop him from finding the truth. He was beaten up, shot at, and warned many times to stay away from the case by people high up in the diocese and law enforcement. Fortunately, he also received help from unexpected places.
Much of Sparhawks struggle in finding the killer was related to his own personal problems, but he continued to press forward in spite of his physical, mental, and emotional health. As he searched for the truth, he also struggled with his alcoholism, seeking help from Alcoholics Anonymous and pulling from his own inner strength to face down his demons.
Beyond the Bridge is the prequel to the award-winning The Charlestown Connection written by Tom MacDonald. The author takes readers back to the beginning of how Sparhawk came to get involved with the diocese and how his eclectic group of friends and acquaintance came to be.
The storyline is interesting and the setting appropriate. The pace is fairly fast, but a bit held back by longer description than sometimes seems necessary to forward the plot. The numerous characters can be difficult to keep track of, but their variety and personalities certainly add to the story. The graphic storyline may turn some people off, but fits in with the overall theme of the novel.
Over the length of the novel, the author built a personal growth in Sparhawk that should show a stronger, but still vulnerable, budding investigator in future books. Readers may not see it in the first novel, but subsequent stories will hopefully see him continue to a strong presence in the community.
A special thank you goes to Oceanview Publishing for providing us a complimentary copy of Beyond the Bridge. If you are interested in either of the two novels in this series, they are available at Amazon.com.