Recently I was given the opportunity to read the new book by Gerard D. Webster for the Catholic Writers Guild. This is a good opportunity since I was remiss in not reviewing his first book.
The author happens to live in Jacksonville, Fl where I live and much of the story in his first two novels take place there. As someone who gets offers to review books from Catholic writers this can be both the same blessing and a curse that anybody who receives books for review has. An author is nice enough to send his book to you and the trepidation is usually what if it is really bad? Plus you have to watch out for your own biases. Though sometimes this watchfulness can be a bias in itself. I think that is the case when I read his first book In-Sight. I quite enjoyed the story and its Catholic emphasis, but I know I am not a very good judge of writing quality. I found though that even after reading the book almost two years ago – it stayed with me and I could recall pretty much all the details of the story. Something that is not usually the case with me.
In-sight was a story of a young liberal columnist and his world view and the clash between his Catholic parents. When at home with them while he loved them their Catholicism left him uncomfortable especially with his diametrically opposed views. His newspaper column is giving him rising popularity such that he is able to hob not in political circles. This leads to him seeing something he should not have seen and a circumstance that leaves him in a hospital badly hurt.
One of the main plots points is what if somebody received one of the charism of a saint such as the charism St. Padre Pio and St. John Vianney had in reading souls? Similar to the Portrait of Dorian Gray, but where you can see the state of the soul of others along with your own soul. An interesting premise and one that sets the journalist on a road of conversion and increased conflict as what he discovered skyrockets. His growing renewed relationship with his parents takes an interesting turn when his father reveals something to him along with the relationship he has with a local anchorwoman. A suspense thriller as the people behind what he discovers escalates their response.
In the second book The Soul Reader it picks up again with the now ex-columnist Ward McNulty as he begins an investigation with his ex-girlfriend into the conspiracy they had discovered to further uncover the primary people involved. The suspense again rises as a contract is put on their lives. Many interesting plot points involving assassins, a living saint, and other elements make it a good followup novel. The Catholic elements add to what would have been a good suspense novel regardless.