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Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite
When responding to the doorbell at the rectory, Reverend Patrick Donelly is surprised to find two baskets with an infant in each one. When he cannot locate foster parents who are willing to take them in, he takes in and raises the twin boys as his own, believing that they were abandoned by an unfortunate parent unable to afford the expense of raising them. The children grow up to become strong-willed men who follow drastically different paths as they make their way in the world. It is one of those seemingly innocuous life choices that leads the boys down a path of no return and tears their family apart in Sal Tocco’s The Cardinal and the Crook.
In Sal Tocco's The Cardinal and the Crook, accepting responsibility for past actions is a recurrent theme. The story moves along at a leisurely pace because Tocco seems to prefer establishing the characters' relationships first and then revealing their ultimate motivations. His portrayal of the dynamic between John and James is remarkably accurate, even incorporating the little-known details about twins, such as how they take responsibility for each other's faults. In addition to drawing the reader into the drama, the story's transitions between the past and present heighten the suspense as it gets closer to its resolution. The finest aspect of the book is Tocco's attention to detail in tying up loose ends, like the mystery surrounding the anonymous donations Father Pat receives. For a debut work, The Cardinal and the Crook is rather good. Tocco has shown he is an author to watch out for in the future.