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February 10 , 2011

Ashes to Ashley: A Novel


Interim Pastor Ashley Greeley arrives as the ashes from the Trinity Church fire settle believing he need only help them grieve losing their former pastor. Slowly he learns that several members were ready to fire his predecessor and that Pastor Brogan may have earned his fate; divine punishment abetted by a disgruntled church member. Detective Joan Campbell uses her investigation of the fire to develop a close working relationship with Ashley; a relationship which both enjoy despite Pastor Greeley's recognition of the potential conflict of interest. Greeley's continuing ministry with prostitutes fans the fires of discord prompting new threats, this time with Ashley atop the pyre.

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Pastor Greeley narrates this mystery while introducing changes to prepare for the next “permanent” pastor at the Trinity Church. He brings emotional baggage from his earlier ministries, and despite his hopes that certain characters will fade with the passing of time, he collects more baggage.

Pastor Greeley adds a Protestant perspective to a genre began by Rabbi Small (Harry Kemelman) and expanded by Father Dowling (Ralph McInerny). Like his fictional mentors, Pastor Greeley helps his parishioners recognize grace in their lives. But he has much to learn about forgiving connections between details that form a fuse touching the arsonist's match.

The author provides discussion questions those interested in further exploration of the issues raised by this narrative.

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