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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Malachy’s Gloriam by C.M. Martello is a long book, not just in pages but in its convoluted plot and long list of characters. But Malachy’s Gloriam is also long on brilliant writing i.e. not once in those 417 pages does the author or the reader get lost or become overwhelmed. What an amazing first novel for C.M. Martello, (“Martello” being a pen name chosen in tribute to the writer’s favorite author, James Joyce).
Set in Chicago, the plot revolves around a handsome, popular and beloved Catholic priest, Father Bari. Someone out there doesn’t love Father Bari as much as his parishioners do. So when a disbarred lawyer, Malachy, is hired to clear Father Bari’s name of pedophilia, Malachy enlists his two best friends, a former Vietnam vet, Kevin, and a clever thief and safe-cracker, Count Leon, to help him find the truth. This jesting, but highly qualified trio do indeed get to the bottom of everything, but C.M. Martello takes them, and the reader on a sometimes dangerous, but ever entertaining, even chaotic ride in Malachy’s Gloriam.
This book is timely, as was the Oscar winning movie Spotlight, and books like Split by Mary Dispenza that reveal truths the Catholic Church has tried to bury. While Malachy’s Gloriam is fiction, in light of all the public is learning today about clergy abuse, this novel is utterly realistic. Just as in Spotlight and Split, C.M. Martello points the finger at the true culprits: the cardinals and those in the higher ranks who move pedophile priests from place to place to protect the church, thereby freeing the perps to continue abusing more innocent children. Malachy and his cohorts are incensed by this abuse and will stop at nothing to expose those responsible. But along the way, they often leave the readers in stitches, cheering them on as they bring justice to all victims.
What makes Malachy’s Gloriam such a good read is the super colourful cast of characters. Characters they are, but each one is very realistic. Malachy owns a bar/restaurant, the Shamrock. He leaves Bridget, a crusty, outspoken woman, to manage it while he does his sleuthing. Despite the tongue-lashing she gives Malachy every time he drops by to see if everything’s okay, the reader senses the genuine fondness and appreciation they have for each other. The same applies to the rib-poking camaraderie so beautifully drawn by C.S. Martello between Kevin, Count Leon, and Malachy. Father Bari’s “goodness” stands in contrast to his blonde, porn-writing sister, Antonella. C.S. Martello does what writers are always being told to do: he doesn’t tell us about his characters; he lets them show themselves to us and we delight in discovering them. This is truly excellent writing.
It wouldn’t be going too far to suggest that Malachy’s Gloriam would make a great movie. It has all the elements needed: memorable characters, clever dialogue and sometimes silly repartee, and an engaging plot with enough suspense and humor to bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. A 5-star beginning to a new career for C.S. Martello.