If you ever wondered if the least risky job in this whole planet is of a priest, A Burning in the Darkness by A P McGrath would force you to reconsider. Father Michael Kieh, who is a priest in an Airport Church, could never have imagined that taking a confession would put him and his loved ones in the center of a cruel conspiracy. His day started with helping a seven-year-old boy find his missing parents at the airport and ended with Michael being found at a crime scene next to an almost dead body of a woman, Joan. The Detective Dewi Blank, who found Michael at the crime scene, asked him how he managed to get there but did not receive any relevant answer from the priest since he insisted that a confessor, whose name he could not reveal as it would be immoral, gave him the whereabouts of the body. Mr. Blank oozed the vibe of a corrupt officer who had made up his mind to declare Michael a murderer without even giving the priest the benefit of doubt — with no apparent reason.
I would be lying if I said that I had an instant connection with the characters. I did not find it in my heart to flinch at the gruesome details of a murder scene. In fact, even Michael’s pain at finding Joan in an almost dead state did not make me emotional. However, Mr. McGrath is a patient writer who is in no rush to make the readers suffer from the pain of his characters. His typical narration style in this book has been to mention an event and then describe a heart-wrenching backstory to stimulate the emotional side of the readers. Father Michael Kieh meant nothing to me until his traumatic past surfaced. After that, I could not help but anticipate a happy ending for the priest. Michael’s helping nature deepened my desire to see his bright future, which amidst all the neverending complications seemed a far-fetched idea. I made a connection with the protagonist, Father Michael Kieh, as soon as his extremely grim past was revealed; however, I failed to make a strong connection with other supporting characters.
When I started reading, the immense grammatical errors annoyed me; it was only after reading a few pages that I realized these were intentional errors to exhibit certain characters’ origin from the non-English speaking country (or countries). So, when Michael said, ” I go get help,” it did not mean that the author didn’t know his verbs; it only meant that the author was planting the seed of authenticity in his character(s). Although this trick achieved its purpose, a few dialogues seemed a little too jumbled up to understand. Such instances, however, are very few.
The plot has many layers that all come together to connect with the Priest in a very organized and interesting manner. I wished to know why Detective Blank was so eager to throw Michael behind bars but that was not the only curiosity in my head. There was another murder case running in parallel that involved cruel murders of many kids. The suspense concerning both the plots is quite thrilling. I could not stop reading until discovering whether Michael received the justice he deserved or not. Apart from the murders and suspense, there is a frowned upon — if not forbidden — romance entwined in the story. While murder mystery fascinated me and the thought of Michael getting a justice kept me on the edge of my seat, romance did not excite me. I could not feel drawn to the romantic aspect of the plot. With several conspiracies running parallel, the overall vibe of the plot remained dark and gloomy. This is definitely a serious read that has a few lessons sprinkled here and there. My favorite lesson is to follow your heart instead of restricting oneself to what the society believes you should be doing.
I would recommend A Burning in the Darkness by A P McGrath to the readers who are open to the idea of a forbidden romance and are eager to read a murder mystery packed with multiple shocking conspiracies.