Hailed by critic Anthony Boucher as "one of the best detective stories of modern times," this classic tale by Grand Master Dorothy Salisbury Davis combines suspense and psychological insight as a priest and a police detective both race to find a self-confessed murderer before he is compelled to kill again.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned …”
Father Duffy has heard many confessions through the years, but none quite so disturbing as the one he’s heard tonight. A young man enters the confessional just as the priest is readying to leave for the evening; he’s distraught that he has killed a woman in a paroxysm of uncontrollable rage—and he’s still wielding the hammer he used to do the deed. Father Duffy tries to convince the young man to turn himself in to the police, but he flees just as suddenly as he had appeared.
When the priest learns the next day that an escort was found bludgeoned to death on the East Side, he sets out to search for the troubled confessor. Meanwhile, Sergeant Ben Goldsmith of the NYPD is drawn deep into the official investigation. Neither is aware that the other is searching for the murderer, and both hope against hope that they’re able to find the killer before he strikes again.
“A simmering tour de force of detection from both ends of the trail.”— Kirkus Reviews
First published in 1951, this solid if somewhat dated mystery from MWA Grand Master Davis (1916–2014) opens on a sweltering August evening in New York City. Father Duffy, assistant pastor of St. Timothy's, one of Manhattan's largest Catholic parishes, is winding up his stint in the confessional when a final parishioner comes in, a hammer in his hand. "I think I killed someone," he tells the priest, and goes on to reveal clues to his identity and that of his victim. Duffy believes he has persuaded the young man to go to the police. When, the next day, the body of a young woman is discovered and no one comes forward to confess to the murder, Duffy decides to find the killer himself. His investigations run parallel to those of NYPD Det. Sgt. Ben Goldsmith, and eventually the two converge. A third strand of the story follows the murderer. The pace can be slow in places, and as a study in psychology it's rather simplistic by today's standards. Crime fiction scholars will best appreciate this entry in the Library of Congress Crime Classics series.