Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some Rise By Sin, and Some By Virtue Fall

"...I damned myself by cooperating, and now I wish to make up for it and save my soul."
"If I were you, I'd be thinking about saving my fucking life, not my soul."
Father Riordan, a Franciscan priest, has been sent to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico where he has learned that things can always get worse. The police chief of his parish, San Patricio, has been assassinated and the village is caught in the war between a corrupt police department and a drug cartel gang hiding in the Sierra Madre mountains.

 The age-old question has always been: If God is good, why is there suffering and evil? 60,000 murders in six years have brought Riordan past doubt; he is losing his faith altogether.

As a young priest in Guatemala, Riordan preached liberation theology. He had faced guns in the hands of corrupt authorities before. Now a Mexican Federal agent insists he cooperates as an informer, sharing what he hears in the confessional booth to identify drug gang members.

Riordan must decide if breaking his vows is justified, even to identify rapists and murderers. It would mean being defrocked. And if he still believes, committing his eternal soul to damnation. Can doing the wrong thing for the right reason help his people? How best can he provide safety for his sheep?

Some Rise By Sin by Philip Caputo made me very thoughtful. His portrait of Mexico, a beautiful country that has become a "moral wilderness" is vivid.

In Caputo's Mexico NAFTA has ruined small orchard owners. Migrants heading north are kidnapped, then executed if the ransoms are unpaid. Young people get sucked into the drug mafia for easy money and luxuries, unable to ever get out--alive.
"Love does a lot, money everything. Making it is like eating nachos. Once you start, you can't stop until the bowl is empty. And then you order more."
The novel begins slow paced, focused on Riordan's internal life and thoughts, but rises to an action climax worthy of a thriller. The resolution comes suddenly and may leave readers unsatisfied. I found it profound, but then I am coming from a background familiar with theology and faith issues, and the symbolism of Riordan's choice resonates with me.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Some Rise by Sin
Philip Caputo
Henry Holt & Co
$28 hardcover
ISBN: 9781627794749