Disbarred criminal defense lawyer and manager of the Shamrock bar, Malachy Madden, is no stranger to unusual projects. When a well-liked, rising star Chicago priest is accused of past sexual abuse of a young boy, it is Madden who is called upon by a committee of parishioners to use his often unorthodox methods to clear the charismatic Fr. Bari.
Could the accuser possibly be telling the truth or is someone trying to embroil Bari in a scandal for some reason? What is Chicago Cardinal O’Grady’s involvement in the situation? If Bari isn’t guilty, it means the real abuser is still on the loose and potentially harming other children. Can Madden discover his identity and stop him before other lives are ruined?
Martello hooks the reader from the beginning with his skillfully crafted characters. Kevin, fellow Vietnam vet, is Madden’s fiercely loyal, multi-talented childhood friend. Count Leon is a former client and retired professional thief who uses his unique expertise to help solve cases. Even the smallest characters are fleshed out fully and make the reader care about their well being.
C. M. Martello’s believable dialogue helps to define the characters as well. The accents are spot on, and the witty back and forth keeps the reader engaged. The conversations between Count Leon, Madden, and Kevin solidify the familiarity between friends, which the author develops throughout the novel. The characters move seamlessly between joking familiarity in the bar and the precise language of the military maneuver when they are confronting adversaries. These are characters we would happily spend time with.
If the reader doesn’t already know that the author is Chicago born and raised, a few chapters into the novel will make it obvious. Martello creates a setting that is as detailed and vibrant as his characters. Chicago comes alive in the novel, and it would not surprise this reader to turn a corner and see the Shamrock in all its slightly dingy glory. New author C.M. Martello knocks one out of the proverbial ballpark with his debut novel Malachy’s Gloriam, and I am certain I am not alone in hoping this is the beginning of a long and successful series.