Redemption is hard to achieve and sometimes even harder to understand, as Christopher Davis makes clear in this novel of post-world-war-II Italy and Vatican promise. Can a murderer be redeemed by seeing a vision of his victim forgiving him? Is there hope for a man who’s caused the deaths of too many to remember their faces? Can faith redeem, and can it be rushed into existence before a court condemns? And finally, will a drunken priest redeem himself by saving a prisoner’s life, or by condemning another man’s soul—do lives or souls weight heavier on the scales of salvation? Italy struggles under Allied occupation at the end of World War II. At least a few of those who collaborated with Hitler now face justice, while others struggle to force their own will through the labyrinth of political, religious and sexual corruption left behind. The Catholic church needs a new saint for a new age, and perhaps an old sinner will be the one to conduct her on her way. Each in his own different prison, each challenged to find escape, and each lavish in invention, the characters of this novel conduct their own strange dance around each other’s sins. Sexual, political, military and personal corruption vie for control. Those who seek redemption in redeeming others might find themselves doubly betrayed. The sad American priest, the scheming Italian, conniving lovers and wives, betrayed Jewish survivors and naïve supplicants, all prove to be pawns, all are lost, and none are as gently found as the forgiven murderer of one. But in the end, only one is being conducted to sainthood. And if saints can save us, they’ll do so one at a time. Wonderfully evocative, thought-provoking, oddly redemptive despite its corruption and depression, the Conduct of Saints is a truly intriguing drama with a pleasing mix of real-life and imagined characters on the stage of history.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the publisher with a request for my honest review.
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Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
"The Conduct of Saintsis Davis' twelfth novel (he's also written three non-fiction books, a play and a children's book). His range is breathtaking. He's written novels set in the Middle Ages, during the holocaust, in a rural New York town and about the competition by electric companies to conduct the first electrocution in the United States. He's never a pedant; the novels rooted in history illuminate their time through human behavior. His technique is subtle, but never obscure. His intentions are always revealed at a purposeful pace. A reader will search in vain for a stray cliché, a familiar voice, or a lifted reference.The Conduct of Saintscaptures the time and the place; it is a profoundly atmospheric novel. More important, it presents an unforgettable cast of characters. Once again, Davis' work commands our attention." --Huffington Post