By William Baer
Many Words Press—an imprint of Able Muse Press—is proud to introduce Advocatus Diaboli of the Catholic Themes, initiating a new series by the author of the popular Jack Colt mystery series:
Advocatus Diaboli is the story of a murder mystery caught up in a canonization cause. International in scope, it unravels though Washington, DC, Rome, the Vatican, Ireland, and elsewhere. It interrogates the making and makeup of a Modern-day saint, juxtaposed to forces for good or ill working to upend or uphold the cause, in the backdrop of the day-to-day failings or goodness of its cast of characters and hagiographies of related saints of the past. Advocatus Diaboli is spellbinding as the best mystery novels and spiritually fulfilling in ways few of them could hope to, or even, care to achieve.
Baer’s Catholic experience is extensive in time and scope: he is the founding director of the St. Robert Southwell Summer Workshops and the author of Psalter: A Sequence of Catholic Sonnets, among several other endeavors and achievements.
It’s much easier to depict wickedness than sanctity, vice than virtue. It’s much easier to portray a whiskey priest than a genuine believable saint. The reason is simple. It’s difficult to depict sanctity without succumbing to either the saccharin or the preachy. William Baer has shown himself a consummate novelist in the manner in which goodness is portrayed without preachiness in this gritty tour de force of a story, which has as many twists and turns as the finest page-turning mystery story. This is fiction at its finest.
— Joseph Pearce, author of The Quest for Shakespeare
From the opening pages of William Baer’s Advocatus Diaboli straight through to its moving conclusion, the reader is irrevocably hooked. This is a brave novel and a brave novelist, unafraid to address the unfashionable questions of faith and doubt, to posit the possibility (though never the certainty) of an immanent divinity at work in the lives of ordinary men and women, the human need for grace, and the power of redemptive suffering to save us from ourselves and each other. Baer writes in the tradition of Graham Greene, Walker Percy, Andre Dubus, and Ron Hansen, among others—Catholic fiction writers each of whom says “No! in thunder” to both the nihilism and easy belief of his era. Compelling and credible, Baer has given us that rare gift—a clear-eyed, intelligent, religious novel that eschews the pieties of doubters and unthinking believers alike.
— Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, author of Andalusian Hours: Poems
Baer draws characters who face a world larger, stranger, and more vast than they at first know. Its sharp edges and fleshly longings are confused and influenced by forces modernity would like to ignore—ones of both great evil and divine good, that in the words of Solzhenistsyn, ultimately lie not in the physical world at all, but cut right through the center of every human heart.
— A. G. Harmon, author of Some Bore Gifts: Stories
William Baer is the author of thirty books including Times Square and Other Stories, Psalter: A Sequence of Catholic Sonnets, Classic American Films: Conversations with the Screenwriters, Luís de Camões: Selected Sonnets (translations from the Portuguese); and the Jack Colt Mystery series, New Jersey Noir. A graduate of Rutgers, NYU, South Carolina, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and USC Cinema, he’s been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright (Portugal), an NEA fellowship in fiction, the T. S. Eliot Award, and the Jack Nicholson Screenwriting Award. He was also the founding editor of the Formalist, the founding director of the St. Robert Southwell Summer Workshops, and the film critic and poetry editor at Crisis.
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