Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THE BODY AND THE BLOOD - Michael Lister

First line: "'How much does prison change a man?'"

John Jordan is the prison chaplain in Florida's Potter Correctional Institution and he's recently discovered that his ex-wife isn't actually his ex-wife. The papers for their divorce years ago were never finalized and they are in fact still married. A situation that has caused the couple to give their marriage another try. They're older, wiser and maybe they can get it right this time. The Jordans' reconciliation makes John's life a bit easier when he finds himself investigating a puzzling inmate murder with his father-in-law, Tom Daniels. While they are standing in the Protective Management wing observing the Catholic Mass, a man locked in his cell in that wing is murdered. There is no evidence of anyone entering or leaving. Neither John nor Tom saw anything, yet the man is dead in his cell and most definitely murdered. The suspects begin to mount as John tries to navigate the investigation, his faith, and the reconciliation with his wife.

THE BODY AND THE BLOOD is Michael Lister's fourth book in the John Jordan Mystery series. His protagonist puts a unique spin on the investigator role and Lister adds the dimension of Jordan's faith to the dynamics. His faith, however, shouldn't be confused with religion. Jordan's faith has to do with his overreaching belief in himself, what is right and good, his relationship with others and his spiritual balance. The Jordan novels have never been preachy and THE BODY AND THE BLOOD follows suit. Instead, they focus on the human-ness of the protagonist and the complexity of the plots.

Lister's own experience as a prison chaplain lends to the authenticity of the setting as well as the characters. THE BODY AND THE BLOOD is narrated by Jordan so the reader sees the inmates as Jordan sees them. Jordan's best friend, Merrill Monroe also features prominently in THE BODY AND THE BLOOD. A correctional officer in the same prison, Merrill assists Jordan's investigation. Merrill is a black man who puts stereotypes through the wringer by using them to his advantage or just as easily shattering all notions of them. He mocks the very ignorance that feeds the stereotype. That's Lister's style of character development: examining the man from inside out.

Merrill also provides a good deal of the humor in this series. The dialogue is clean and Merrill's is peppered with sarcasm and wit.

The plot of THE BODY AND THE BLOOD is probably among Lister's strongest. There are suspects galore. Lister doles out clues and the reader will recognize that they are clues but he's equally as generous with his red herrings. And the clues often lead the reader in a direction other than the solution. Reading this book is akin to looking at an Escher piece. It works, but how?

The BODY AND THE BLOOD is another great effort from Micheal Lister in the John Jordan Mystery series. This is a series I look forward to and Lister continues to deliver.

THE BODY AND THE BLOOD is available in hardcover from Five Star Publishing (ISBN: 978-1-59414-893-4). 

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8 comments:

Kay September 29, 2010 at 6:52 AM  

Wow, Jen, this is another new-to-me series. I'll note it down because it sounds like something I should check out. I love the fact that every time I come here, I find something new to pique my interest. Keep it up please! LOL

Emily September 29, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

Hi Jen, thank you very much for this review. I've not read any books by Lister before so it's good to get an introduction. Can you please tell me the title of the first John Jordan book? I've gone to his website but it's not listed accordingly. Many thanks.

Jen Forbus September 29, 2010 at 8:53 AM  

Kay, you're so sweet! Thanks for stopping by. I always look forward to your visits.

Hi Emily, the first John Jordan book was POWER IN THE BLOOD, followed by BLOOD OF THE LAMB, and then FLESH AND BLOOD.

Dorte H September 29, 2010 at 1:53 PM  

This one sounds very tempting. I also love the idea of the couple who realize they are not divorced anyway and try to give it a new chance.

carolsnotebook September 29, 2010 at 3:38 PM  

I'll have to check this series out some time. The idea of the investigator being a prison chaplain is interesting.

Poncho September 30, 2010 at 3:26 AM  

Wow!! This one seems like an amazing read. I just wish I could just go across the street and get most of your recommendations...

But anyway, it's great to have a growing TBR and TBP (purchased) lists... at least I know I won't die of boredom

Thank you so much for your reviews. I wish I had the dedication to comment on each one!

Craig Sisterson September 30, 2010 at 4:18 AM  

Sounds intriguing Jen. I'll have to keep an eye out for Lister's series (man, the TBR pile just keeps growing and growing).

Hope all is well in the USA.

Emily September 30, 2010 at 4:22 AM  

Jen, thanks for your reply, much appreciated.

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