Purge the Evil is a vigilante thriller, which explores what happens when a passion for righteousness gets transformed into ruthless evil.
In the suburban town of West Hartford, Connecticut, petty criminals start turning up dead, each with a single gunshot to the head. Police Captain Ray Bradford tells his officers, “It’s just drug deals gone bad.” But Detective Mike Cavanaugh isn’t convinced. He has seen enough drug deals gone bad, and his cop’s sixth sense tells him something doesn’t add up.
What Det. Cavanaugh doesn’t know—and what his sixth sense would never suspect—is that Capt. Bradford has joined three other respected, middle-aged citizens to form a secret vigilante group. The group’s mission is simple: if the criminal justice system will not lock up chronic law-breakers, more extreme measures must be taken to “purge the evil” from society. The other three members of the group include the owner of a successful car dealership, the pastor of a fundamentalist church, and a conservative radio talk show host.
For Capt. Bradford, the group’s deadly undertaking is personal. He has seethed with rage ever since his beloved wife and daughter were killed by a drunk driver who walked away from the crash without a scratch and then walked out of court with just a slap on the wrist. Years of catching scofflaws in the act of committing serious crimes, only to watch them go through the justice system’s revolving door and wind up back on the street, has convinced Bradford to risk everything in a last-ditch effort to clean up the community.
Det. Cavanaugh’s older brother, Dan, is a Catholic priest assigned to St. Lawrence parish in a working-class West Hartford neighborhood. Fr. Dan has two recurring thoughts: 1) his ministry is a complete failure, and 2) a young widow in the parish, Anna Rivera, is the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen. Both thoughts depress the frustrated and lonely priest.
Fr. Dan is drawn into the drama when Anna comes to the Rectory late at night and throws herself into the priest’s arms. But before Fr. Dan’s secret fantasy can come true, he realizes the beautiful woman is weeping. Her teenage son was just gunned down by the vigilante group. In the following days, as he tries to comfort the grieving mother, the priest finds himself waging a fierce battle between the spirit and the flesh.
Det. Mike cannot understand why his boss, Capt. Bradford, will not let him thoroughly investigate the series of murders. Ignoring direct orders, he follows his instincts and tracks down important clues about the crimes in his spare time.
Soon after, one of the vigilante “missions” goes wrong when an innocent bystander is accidently gunned down. The group member who pulled the trigger, bombastic right-wing radio celebrity Dave “Pit Bull” Peterson, is consumed with guilt and goes to Confession for the first time in 20 years. Fr. Dan Cavanaugh listens to the emotional Confession in amazement, partly because he’s never heard a murder Confession before, and partly because it’s the same voice he hears from his kitchen radio each morning.
Mike’s detective work leads him nearer and nearer to the heart of the sinister conspiracy. But without a crucial nugget of information known only to Fr. Dan, who is under a vow never to reveal it, Mike is heading right into a trap, unaware that his name is now at the top of the vigilante group’s hit list.
Purge the Evil reaches a thrilling climax with a direct showdown between Det. Mike and Capt. Bradford, a showdown between righteousness and ruthless evil.
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I have to admit, writing a book review about my own book seems a little weird. But that’s the way it is in today’s world of blogs and e-books and self-publishing. In this digital age, the book publishing world is being radically transformed right before our eyes. It’s now almost impossible to get a traditional literary agent or publishing house to market the work of an unknown author. So, those of us who slog away at our keyboards in anonymity have to do that task ourselves.
Purge the Evil is based on an idea that rattled around in my head for many years. When I finally wrote it down, I did my best to do four things: keep the story moving briskly; keep the language, sexuality, and violence to no more than a PG rating; interject my Catholic faith into the narrative whenever possible; and make the ending a real surprise. I think I succeeded with all four goals.
The book is available for Kindle download at the Amazon website.
Feel free to contact me with any feedback, comments, criticism, movie offers, etc. at MerryCatholic@gmail.com .