Owen Keane, a seminarian in the wilds of southern Indiana, is at risk of failure. When an insightful priest offers him a chance at redemption by asking him to find a runaway classmate, mystery addict Keane turns the assignment into a search for a fabulous missing sonnet, an investigation into illicit drug trade, and a harrowing confrontation with his darkest fears.
In this assured, consistently surprising prequel to the Edgar-nominated Deadstick , divinity student Owen Keane struggles to find both his wandering sense of vocation and a missing classmate. Michael Crosley has vanished from the Southern Indiana seminary of St. Aelred late in the summer of 1973, leaving behind a past littered with perplexities and outright contradictions. Among the elderly to whom he ministered was a woman who claimed her family had a link to the English poet John Keats. Did Michael disappear after gaining possession of a heretofore unknown Keats sonnet? Was that the sonnet he declaimed, tears streaming down his face, during a recent poetry reading at the St. Aelred campus pub? Father Jerome, spiritual advisor to both Owen and Michael , thinks it makes poetic sense to send one troubled seminarian in pursuit of another, especially since Owen seems more interested in detective fiction mythology than matters of biblical doctrine. This ambitious work sensitively probes its protagonist's emotional uncertainties (intensified by the arrival of his former lover Mary) and garners much wry humor from the image of Owen, cigarette in mouth, spluttering through rural Hoosier backwoods in his beat-up sports car. A near-faultless performance from start to finish. ( Aug. )