Monday, June 30, 2014

Pagan Babies

By Elmore Leonard

Father Terry was a Catholic missionary in a village in Rwanda during the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus, two tribes in conflict. Holding mass one Sunday, Hutu killers entered the church and slaughtered the Tutsi congregation in front of Father Terry and he was helpless to stop it.
Some years pass and Terry receives word that his mother has died. His mother was the reason Terry became a priest, it was her dream, not his. So he returns to the States.
Once there it soon transpires that Terry has a lot of old baggage he needs to deal with including a felony charge connected to smuggling and old friend who wants his $30,000 dollars back that Terry apparently absconded with when he went (fled) to Africa. A new added complication is Debby, an ex-con who has a serious grudge against her con-artist ex-boyfriend, who conned her out of $67,000. Debby and Terry join forces, Terry to raise money for his mission in Africa and Debby to get back her money from her ex.

I pretty much enjoyed this book. It is an interesting combination of grim reality and goofiness. The Rwanda part is horrifying and terrible and the interactions of the characters in the US are pretty goofy. Terry is a complex guy who is having a struggle trying to understand where his loyalties lie, with his own self-interest, with the people he left behind in Africa or with his family and friends, old and new, back home in Michigan. It remains unclear which way Terry will go and what his true intentions are, even to himself, until the very end of the story.
For another review, see:

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