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The Shepherd's Calculus
When journalist Peter Merrick is asked to write a eulogy for his mentor, Jesuit priest James Ingram, his biggest concern is doing right by the man. But when his routine research reveals disturbing ties to sexual abuse and clues to a shadowy deal trading justice for power, everything he believed about his friend is called into question. With the US presidential election looming, incumbent Arthur Wyncott is quickly losing ground among religious voters. Meanwhile, Owen Feeney, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is facing nearly a billion dollars in payments to victims of sex abuse. When Feeney hits on a solution to both men’s problems, it seems the stars have aligned. That is until Ally Larkin—Wyncott’s brilliant campaign aide—starts to piece together the shocking details. As the election draws closer and the stakes get higher, each choice becomes a calculation: Your faith, or your church? Your principles, or your candidate? The person you most respect, or the truth that could destroy their legacy? When the line between right and wrong is blurred, how do you act, and whom do you save?
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Farrelly effectively avoids the customary pitfalls of the bombshell subject. The novel has well-defined parameters of a carefully delineated plot. The conclusion is especially well-paced.

Prose: This is a very clean, efficient, and straightforward narrative. The writing matches the occupation of the main character. Farrelly has a good ear for sharp dialogue.

Originality: The novel takes a hot button issue and makes it feel fresh. It successfully links religion, politics, and journalism with guilt and moral issues.

Character Development: Farrelly's main character, Peter Merrick, is well-chosen for the task at hand. His back story helps to define his character with proper baggage and personal conflicts. The clergy are presented effectively. Secondary characters serve the story well.

Date Submitted: July 18, 2017

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