Book Review: The Body Under The Bridge

19 Feb

UnknownA former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Stonebridge, he didn’t expect it to show up like this–in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.

The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families–the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely. They are fearful for reasons they won’t explain.

When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge, interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?

61XOkpwGGiL._UX250_Paul McCusker is the Peabody Award-winning writer and director of the audio drama Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, along with the multiple award-winning audio dramatizations of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, A Christmas Carol, his original series The Luke Reports: The Life of Jesus (honored as Best Audio Drama by the prestigious Audie Awards) and The Father Gilbert Mysteries (also an Audie Award nominee), all for Focus On The Family Radio Theatre.

Apart from dramatizations of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Screwtape, he also scripted the original audio drama C.S. Lewis At War and written the companion book C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created A Classic. His work has extended to writing the detailed footnotes for The Annotated Screwtape Letters for HarperOne. (It is the first authorized annotated edition of any book by C.S. Lewis.)

McCusker is also a writer and director for the long-running children’s audio program Adventures in Odyssey, scripting over 250 episodes as well as 2 of the animated video series, authoring 18 spin-off novels, and serving as the general editor for The Imagination Station chapter books. For adults, he has written the Gold Medallion-nominated Epiphany, The Mill House and, with Dr. Walt Larimore, The Gabon Virus and The Influenza Bomb. His plays and musicals have been performed in churches and community theaters across the country. One, A Time for Christmas, was a Dove Award nominee. His lyrics have been put to music by the Grammy Award-winning Michael W. Smith.


My Impressions:

After a successful run in Focus on The Family Radio Theater, Paul McCusker is bringing his Scotland Yard detective turned Anglican priest to readers. The first book in the Father Gilbert Mystery series, The Body under The Bridge, is a treat for fans of mysteries. It has a very British setting, a puzzling mystery and a main character who struggles with issues of faith and the nature of good and evil. I rate this book a 5-star read! I loved it!

Father Gilbert has returned to St. Mark’s after a sabbatical of resting and regrouping. This late in life cleric is rather unconventional — a former detective with a traditional liturgical bent, he also has had first hand experience with evil. When a series of events, both physical and spiritual, draw him into a police investigation, his world is once again knocked off kilter. Unseen dangers await him as he searches for truth.

The Body under The Bridge is first and foremost a mystery. There are multiple suspects and motives involved. The present gets tangled up in curses and feuds from centuries past. This one is a puzzler that will engage all of your deductive powers. Very British, its subject matter is supported by the many spooky houses, cemeteries and crypts that serve as the book’s settings. McCusker’s main character, Father Gilbert, is very complex. His former life influences how he leads and interacts with his church and others in the community. Although tuned into the unseen battles of good and evil, he is often caught off guard — a subtle, but important point made to be fully armed with God’s truth. Father Gilbert has a number of visions that are mostly met with skepticism by the police, his curate, Father Benson, and his bishop. I found the disbelief expressed by the police natural. It was the dismissal by the church that spoke to me. How many times do we discount true spiritual encounters as mere coincidence or bad timing. We speak of evil in the world without really taking it seriously. I underlined a number of passages in the book, but here’s one that made a big impression:

Father Gilbert didn’t believe that the seemingly random convergence of mundane events often labelled by people as “coincidence” was random at all. The world was a vast tangle of interwoven webs and intricate patterns of cause and effect that, at its core, reflected a spiritual reality. We, as humans, were constantly being nudged towards a heavenly or a diabolical realm. Nothing was random. Even the mundane was filled with significance. (page 86)

Father Gilbert knows evil, but believes and trusts in God. A man who daily wrestles with his faith, he, nevertheless, continues to lean on God in the midst of weakness.

As I said in the beginning, The Body under The Bridge is a 5-star read. Its plot, setting, and characterization are great, but the presentation of the reality of the battle waged by evil is truly excellent. This is one I would recommend to anyone. The book wrapped up the mystery, but more from Father Gilbert is promised — I can’t wait!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

12 Responses to “Book Review: The Body Under The Bridge”

  1. Carole February 19, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    Oh, to have your gift of expression, Beckie! I’m keeping this book because I’d like to go back and read it again. The quote you pulled was great, reflecting the humanness and struggle between good & evil that we deal with daily. Some reviewers mentioned it being scary, but it’s funny that as one who doesn’t care for suspense, I didn’t find it so. Maybe because I was seeing God’s power. Also, I bought the radio theater set because I want to know more about Father Gilbert’s background. Like you said, really excellent in every way.

    • rbclibrary February 19, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks so much for your kind comments. Coming from you that means a lot. I didn’t find it scary, but perhaps chilling. I need to get those CDs. I think my husband and I would enjoy them on our road trips.

  2. Carrie February 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    I will have to check this one out, Beckie! Thank you for the great review!

    • rbclibrary February 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

      Thanks, Carrie! I think you’ll love it too.

    • Carole February 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

      Beckie expresses herself much better than I do, but we have the same opinion of this book, Carrie! Hope you get to read it soon.

      • rbclibrary February 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

        :). Carole, your reviews are always very articulate and insightful. I am always glad to read them; they point to things I haven’t thought of before.

      • Carrie February 19, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

        haha Carole! You are much too hard on yourself 🙂

  3. Silver's Reviews February 20, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    Wonderful review!!

    Sounds like a great book.

    Lovely blog too.

    Stopping by from Saturday Review of Books Linkup.

    I hope you are having a good day.

    Silver’s Reviews
    The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

    • rbclibrary February 20, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. hopeinbrazil February 21, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    I actually bought an audiobook of Father Gilbert mysteries but never listened to it. Thanks for reminding me to dig it up. Loved your review.

    • rbclibrary February 21, 2016 at 8:04 am #

      Several people have mentioned those being available. I need to check them out too. Thanks for stopping by the blog!!


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