The Mystery of Things
Date Published: November 4, 2008
Number of Pages: 436
Print Price: $18.95
eBook Price: $2.99
I have been wanting to read The Mystery of Things by Debra Murphy for a long time. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book recently and, on one rainy Saturday, I finally had an opportunity to read it. I was surprised, on so many levels.
It was a hard-to-put down, compelling tale and one of the most entertaining and engaging Catholic novels I’ve ever read, filled with rich language and beautiful imagery, as well as excellent (and brilliant) writing. There’s a definite Flannery O’Connor feel to it, but this novel was unlike any other Catholic novel I had ever read. As an NFP teacher and as a novelist whose own books’ themes center around the Theology of the Body, I was particular impressed with how well the author illustrated these teachings within the context of the book.
The story centers around James Ireton, a man who grew up in England but who now lives in Milwaukee. He is unlike any other protagonist I’ve ever known and seems to have more vices than virtues. Diagnosed with a mental disorder, he is currently not on medication. Although his father was an Episcopalian minister, James became Catholic after having a vision several years before. At present, however, he does not practice his faith at all (more specifically, he is promiscuous). In the midst of it all, he becomes a suspect in a series of local murders.
St. Francis De Sales’ quote, “To believe is to be drawn,” is illustrated quite well in this novel. James is attracted to a fellow student at the university, Guadalupe (Lupe), who is not the most beautiful woman he has ever met, but he is attracted to her all the same. She also stutters, but more importantly, is about as Catholic and faithful as they come.
The well-drawn and well-developed characters were so real to me and the situations so expertly described that during one particular scene, I actually yelled at one character “Don’t do it!”
There is one proviso: this book is not for the faint at heart, or those Catholics who do not want to read dialogue from characters blurting out swear words (yes, even the “F” word.) Because of the themes regarding sexuality, there are scenes which are particularly graphic. So if you are a Catholic who is bothered by sexual situations or graphic language, then this probably isn’t the book for you. If, however, you can tolerate language and graphic descriptions, this novel is probably one of the most entertaining reads you’ll ever enjoy.
There are so many things I love about this book and so many different aspects which will engage any reader. Although I have always appreciated a good murder mystery, this one in particular kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed the quotes from Shakespeare at the beginning of each chapter, and the references to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as the interesting and well-developed, multi-layered, believable characters. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to the author’s future books!
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
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