Let the Dead Bury the Dead, by David Carlson: An Old Priest Meets a Violent End in Detroit

let-the-dead-bury-the-deadLet the Dead Bury the Dead ($14.95, 216 pp, 6×9 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-395-2) is the second book in a mystery/thriller series by David Carlson featuring Lieutenant Christopher Worthy and his Greek Orthodox monk/priest friend, Father Fortis. When a priest is found strangled in front of the altar, Detective Worthy and Father Fortis delve into his personal and spiritual life for answers.

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“A readable and engaging novel. Carlson’s characters are real and relatable. The quality of a mystery series lies not in how well-crafted the first book is but in how well-written the second is. In this case, the second installment matches the first in quality.”

—Rich Gotshall for the Daily Journal

4 Stars: “A sober and thoughtful mystery that presents a window into the Greek Orthodox denomination. The sleuth team is a troubled homicide detective and a Greek Orthodox monk. They work well together, and their friendship is crucial to the story.” Read more….

—Danielle the Book Huntress for Affaire de Coeur Magazine

Critics and readers had high praise for Book 1, Enter by the Narrow Gate:

“The novel’s prose is rich with religious references and imagery, which add to the unique depth of the novel….The rapport between Worthy and Fortis is easy and enjoyable, and the double case ensures that Enter by the Narrow Gate never slows in action.” —Foreword Reviews

“The real joy in reading this mystery lies in Carlson’s exploration of how faith shapes reasoning and actions, rather than simply the action itself.” —The Daily Journal

“The cultures of New Mexico and its Native American population are explored in depth, offering many insights into the region and its inhabitants while providing a background for this intriguing mystery…. Enter by the Narrow Gate [….] gets these two characters off to a chilling but entertaining start.” —The New York Journal of Books

“A consistently compelling and entertaining read from first page to last…. highly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review

Carlson’s first work of nonfiction, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World was selected as one of the Best Books of 2011 in the area of Spiritual Living by Library Journal. His second book on religious terrorism, Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships, will be released by New City Press in 2017.

The cover art is by Carlson’s wife, Kathy, a retired English professor and an award-winning artist.

A priest is found brutally strangled before the altar of Detroit’s St. Cosmas Greek Orthodox Church. The captain of the Detroit Police assigns her star detective Christopher Worthy to the case, knowing that the interim priest is Worthy’s close friend Father Fortis. Worthy’s new partner Henderson believes Father Spiro surprised a local thug in the act of stealing a silver altarpiece. This simple solution doesn’t sit right with Detective Worthy and Father Fortis. Small clues have led them to believe the killer is connected to the church.

Father Spiro had recently befriended a rabbi. During the final service he led before he died, why did he falter? Was he drifting into senility or simply distracted? Was he hiding a crisis of faith?

To find the Father Spiro’s killer, Detective Worthy and Father Fortis will have to work together to blend in and observe the priest’s inner circle. Time is a luxury Worthy doesn’t have. His partner’s behavior is erratic, his captain is breathing down his neck, and his troubled daughter Alison is finally reaching out. Then there is the beautiful reporter who is slamming him in print, payback for being kept at arm’s length.

As the case grows colder, Fortis and Worthy worry that the culprit has committed the perfect crime. Yet as they get closer to the truth, neither is prepared for evil that threatens them both.

Says the author, “In Let the Dead Bury the Dead, I bring Christopher Worthy back to his home in Detroit, but his return is anything but a sweet homecoming. He faces an envious colleague, a self-destructive partner, and a reproachful daughter. His problems make his friendship with Father Nicholas Fortis even more of a lifeline as they also delve into their victim’s troubled psyche. The obstacles they face give the story a heightened psychological dimension that I hope will make the story richer for my readers.”

David Carlson has a BA in political science from Wheaton College (Illinois), an M.A. from the American Baptist Seminary of the West (Biblical Theology) and a doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (New Testament Studies). Franklin College, a traditional liberal arts college in central Indiana, has been his home for the past thirty-eight years. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“When was the last time you saw him?” Worthy asked.

“If I answer that, what will you know? Nothing.”

The secretary came in with the three cups and a tray of cookies.

“Almond crescents,” Rabbi Milkin said. “Spiro’s favorite, right, Leah?”

“Bless his memory,” the secretary added as she left the room.

The rabbi slowly munched a cookie while continuing to gaze at Father Fortis. “My family emigrated from Russia to Palestine, then here. We were driven out by Russian Orthodox Christians, so you will understand that it was a miracle for Spiro and me to find friendship. But even miracles are fragile.”

He took a long sip from his cup as he stood by the window. “One night I couldn’t sleep. I turned on the TV and heard one of those late night preachers. I thought he was funny, but then he said God didn’t listen to the prayers of Jews. He said we weren’t saved. And in that moment I was a boy back in Russia, waiting for someone to knock on my door in the middle of the night. I didn’t sleep at all.”

After a moment’s pause, he continued. “The next day, I called Spiro and asked him to come here. He did. I told him what had happened. Then I demanded that he say the preacher had blasphemed. Do you know what he did, what my friend did?”

Father Fortis shook his head.

“He laughed and told me not to take the fundamentalists so seriously. I exploded and said something horrible. I said I knew what his liturgy—what your liturgy—calls us during your Holy Week.”

Father Fortis looked down at his cup of coffee but didn’t respond.

“You call us ‘the synagogue of Satan.’ Then I said it was people like him, like you, too,” he added, nodding toward Father Fortis, “who’d killed my grandfather.”

“When did you have this argument?” Worthy asked.

“Does it matter? Maybe a year ago, maybe a month or two more or less. The important thing is that four weeks ago, Spiro walked back into this office and asked for a cup of coffee. We embraced, I asked him to forgive me, and he asked me to forgive his people. We had some almond crescents and agreed to start meeting again. Like old times. But then someone killed him.”

“How did he seem that last time? Mentally, I mean?” Worthy asked.

“He’d lost more hair, and he was a man very proud of his hair,” the rabbi said. “I was surprised. I asked if he’d been ill. He said no. I told him to retire.”

Father Fortis and Worthy waited patiently while the rabbi continued to stare out the window. “What did he say to that?” Worthy asked.

“Something strange. He asked if offering forgiveness could ever be wrong, if there were times when absolution gave evil too many chances.”

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