Can you fight greed and corruption? A Book Review.


I HAVE A STRANGE FASCINATION for cozy mysteries. I don’t write them, but I am intrigued by them, and I deeply admire those who choose to find, then dig up, the sin, crime, shame, and corruption that hide in the shadows of small town America.

One of the best cozy mystery writers we have today is James R. Callan, and he has struck gold again with Over My Dead Body.

He has lived and continues to live in small town America, residing deep within the piny woods of East Texas.

He understands the jealousies that fester even when no one wants to talk about them or even admit they exists.

The story behind Over My Dead Body is not a new one.

Small towns are facing the same dilemma every day.

jim-color-formal-242x300Years of tradition are suddenly torn down by large corporations wanting to come in, remove the old with bulldozers, and replace it with glittering new shopping centers.

You can’t fight city hall.

You can’t fight eminent domain.

You can’t fight big money.

You can’t fight the threat.

But what happens when someone fight back.

Sometimes he dies suddenly.

Sometimes the deaths is ruled a suicide.

But sometimes it may be murder.

In Pine Tree, Texas, the indefatigable Father Frank is more than a simple priest.

He represents the soul and the conscience of the town.

He knows what’s right and does not mind standing up and doing his best to correct the wrongs.

In this case, he believes that an open-and-shut case of suicide does indeed have the bitter, acrid smell of murder.

He makes a decision. If law enforcement can’t or won’t solve the crime, he will.

One man dared to stand in the way of greed.

He wound up dead.

Will Father Frank be the next target, the next victim?

Progress, it seems, has its own hired gun, and he’s on the prowl.

The life of one priest certainly worth far less than the loss of a millions-dollar project.

Life in the mythical town of Pine Tree is calm and peaceful, the way it should be Neighbors take care of each other. They stay out of trouble. They don’t want to get in anyone’s way. Mostly they sit around in a downtown cafe, drink coffee, and grieve as they see the culture and heritage of their town being stolen from them.

But death and the bold, unrelenting fortitude of their priest have a way of changing them, their attitudes, and the choices they are willing to make.

Sometimes, they decide, the sacred land around them is worth dying for.

This is one of those times.

In Over My Dead body, Jim Callan has given us a strong, salt-of-the-earth character in Father Frank, and he’s someone we won’t soon forget. The story peels back the sordid layers of a small town, and we realize immediately that Pine Tree is no different from our own hometowns, large or small.

There is always evil.

And there is always good.

We pray with Father Frank that the good will prevail.

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