He had always been a deceptively good athlete, in the sense that, to look at him, you wouldn’t have thought he was any kind of an athlete at all.
Bless me Father, I loved this book. Loved it to death. I’ve enjoyed all Caimh McDonnell’s novels, but this one was a special delight.
If you haven’t been following the series, fat old drunken Bunny McGarry, former Dublin policeman, is thought by his Irish friends to be dead. He is not. Instead, he’s in the United States on a personal mission. The love of his life is living in hiding, protected by a shadowy, renegade order of nuns called the Sisters of the Saint. He needs to contact her and warn her about something. As I Have Sinned begins, he has learned the name of a man who might be able to put him in touch with those women. But that’s another challenge. The man is Father Gabriel de Marcos, a priest in a New York ghetto neighborhood. Father Gabriel has no time for Irishmen on missions – he’s trying to save a few of the kids in his flock from the trap of gangster life – a girl who can box, a boy who can paint, a young man with a gift for words.
But Bunny stubbornly insists on sticking around until Father Gabriel can help him. Bunny can even help with coaching the kids in the church gym. Reluctantly, Father Gabriel lets him move in as a type of assistant priest –a tough gig for Bunny, devoted as he is to getting drunk and cursing. Gang leaders are threatening Father Gabriel, accusing him of stealing “their” people. But the priest insists he has no need of Bunny’s protection.
And it’s almost true. Father Gabriel has secrets, and a history. A history that’s catching up with him.
It all comes together in a farcical explosion of improbable action, slapstick, and genuine heroism and grace.
What I loved most about I Have Sinned was that along with exciting fights and witty writing, there was genuine goodness and sweetness here. Father Gabriel is a tremendous hero, a sincere man of God, loving his neighbor and struggling to redeem his past (I could quibble that he has a poor understanding of grace, but what do you expect from a Catholic?). I was charmed even while I laughed. You’d have to go far to find a more positive portrayal of a man of God in any novel.
Nevertheless, you need to be prepared for lots of foul language. But other than that, I highly recommend I Have Sinned. You’ll probably want to read the rest of the books first, though.