I had recently positively reviewed Fr. Mike Driscol’s Demons, Deliverance, Discernment : Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World. So when I found that he also recently released a novel I was intrigued. The book is a collection of short stories called The Father Capranica Mysteries: Stories of the Strange and Supernatural.
As the author wrote:
“The Fr. Capranica Mysteries are my attempt to imitate both G.K. Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Stories and the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night feel of Alice Cooper.”
Overall I did enjoy this collection of stories. This collection starts out pretty strong with a story called “Storm Sirens”, and then “Walk Through Walls”. This promise at the start is mostly kept throughout the collection with plenty of solid stories.
The main character Fr. Capranica is a time traveling priest, but with certain limitations. He will travel through time, but only forward. He and pilgrims like him jump through time guided by divine providence to be where they are needed. This limitation reminded me that we are all sequential time travelers always moving forward in time and with cooperation with grace can be where God wants us to be.
These stories are more X-Files than Alice Cooper, although Alice Cooper is a prominent character in the last story. It is obvious the author is a fan of him as I am. The reason I saw X-Files is that often the stories involve obscure folklore from multiple cultures. From pagan to Christian. Fr. Capranica besides his priestly duties is often called upon to investigate strange going ons. Just this aspect of the storytelling is satisfying. Included is a spiritual depth that adds to the stories. They often make a serious point spiritually without hitting you in the head providing a Fr. Brown aspect. This provides a layer to the story without sacrificing the story itself. Fr. Driscoll did lots of research on possession and exorcism in his Ph.D. program for counseling. The start of his book on exorcism includes information worldwide across cultures and history regarding exorcism and you can see that all this served well in providing information for these stories. It is nice to be able to read stories of this type without all the bad theology you often get.
The stories are not told in a time sequential manner so you have stories mixed in of Fr. Capranica in early times of Church history. So you have some stories involve famous saints while being coy about who they are until close to the end of the story. Some of these specific stories were I think the weaker of the collection, although probably because I am put off by talking about a famous person with the slow reveal. Still even the lesser stories held my attention and this collection as a whole was worthwhile for me. I could easily see my self going back to it at a later date.
The story involving Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper) revolved around the origin of his stage name which actually makes for a pretty good story of this type. After his Christian conversion something happens that causes his family to bring in Fr. Capranica. Although it is an urban legend that he got his name from a Ouija board, it does provide a good basis for the story told as if it was fact and what the consequences could be.
On another note while it is true that “You can’t just a book by its cover”, it’s also true that we do so anyway. Can’t say I am a fan of the cover and it makes the book look unprofessional. The book is published by Bezalel Books, a Catholic publishing company. Looking through their books I saw a similar problem in that many of their book covers were rather amateurish. They look like something that I could splice together and that is not an endorsement.