A former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Hailsham, he didn’t expect it to show up like this–in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.
The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families–the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely. They are fearful for reasons they won’t explain.
When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge, interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?
You might not want to go to sleep after reading the first in a new series of novels by Focus on the Family writer Paul McCusker. The Body Under the Bridge begins starts with Father Gilbert witnessing a suicide from his church’s tower. Before he jumps, the dead man gives the minister a strange medallion. There’s a problem, however: there’s no way the jumper could’ve been at the church when Father Gilbert saw him. But if Father Gilbert dreamed the whole thing, why does he still have the medallion? It’s an intriguing first chapter and sets the stage for the rest of the book.
I’m new to the character of Father Gilbert, although I understand there was a Focus on the Family series of audio dramas about him. One thing I found jarring was the use of the title Father, as it didn’t fit with my personal experience of the Anglican Church. I spent 22 years attending Anglican services in Britain, but I never called the minister Father until I attended one in the USA. Also, the ministers of the churches I attended throughout the country were called vicars or ministers, and not priests. There is an explanation for these terms several chapters in but it didn’t help me.
This is a disquieting novel about the struggle between good and evil. Father Gilbert sees visions, including ghosts. He experiences a paranormal event which could be described as frightening. There is discussion about the occult and also descriptions of black masses. This probably isn’t a book you’d want your teen to read. The writing isn’t wonderful, but the story was good enough that I stayed up late to finish it and I’ll probably read future titles in the series if I have the opportunity.
Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Body Under the Bridge, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read The Body Under the Bridge? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Lion Fiction (a division of Kregel)
Publication Date: 27 January 2016
Page Count: 320