This Book Review is for W.O.W.’s (Women On Writing) Blog Tour
There are many reasons why authors choose to write particular novels–stories about specific characters embracing or rejecting relationships and the events that have shaped their lives. In Chapman’s own words, A Killer’s Grace represents “the darkness of the path to innocence.” He states that much of his time now is spent working with people who need to forgive and to heal.
It’s clearly a noble cause and one that he makes come alive page after page through the characters he so deftly creates with respect and an unending commitment to understanding and acceptance.
Most fascinating about the journey he takes the reader on is the narrative arc he has created. He begins with the main character, Kevin Pitcairn, receiving a letter from a serial killer awaiting to be sentenced to death but knowing that his particular mental disease left him without control over the heinous crimes he had committed.
The “killer” hopes that Pitcairn, a journalist, will be able to influence readers and help them to change society’s need to condemn so-called “monsters” while not acknowledging the need to identify and treat those who are controlled by one mental disease or another. Never condoning acts of violence nor asking to be pardoned, he throws Pitcairn into an examination of his own transgressions and all the BIG questions of life with which Pitcairn himself is battling: Is there a God that he can believe in? Is man no better than his worst temptations and inclinations? What part does nurture versus nature play in each of our lives? And how can he best understand and heal his personal wounds along with those of his love-mate, Maria Elena.
Throughout Pitcairn’s journey the one question that remains is how to break cycles of violence. The role that A.A. plays and the teachings of 12-Step programs cannot be minimized. Here, too, Chapman has not only succeeded in quoting chapter and verse as any long-standing member of a 12- Step program would, he helps us to understand the power of the need to make amends and to forgive.
Are 12-Step programs ever enough to interrupt an addiction and prevent crimes before they occur? Will identifying and treating young offenders avoid the atrocities committed by them? Will talk therapy and/or medications change them from victims of diseases that leave them forever out of control into contributing members of society?
Chapman is a consummate story teller, showing us how each of his characters confronts and explores deeply controversial psychological, philosophical, and religious questions. Never lecturing nor telling us how to live, we are left with the same questions which he asks himself through his understanding and compassion for each of his characters.
One might add that since the beginning of recorded history all religious teachings at their best hold out the promise to those who have strayed and at worst “sinned” to make amends, to find salvation. Scripture tells us (Deuteronomy 31:26): “I give you this day blessing and curse, for even curses can be transformed into blessings . . . in everything there is a spark of the Life Force from the Source of All Life.” Many texts stress the need to start each day anew, and work toward forgiveness and salvation in this life, if not also in an after-life.
There is an irony or even an intended synchronicity, in the lead character’s name, Pitcairn. It turns out (and I assume that Chapman may, indeed, know this) that there is a family named Pitcairn in the U.S.A. For generations “the raison d’être of the Pitcairn family” of Financial Advisors states that: “Our long experience as a family office enables us to not only help families manage the day-to-day but also help them see around corners, anticipating and preparing for well thought-out transitions that are the hallmark of successful families.” How appropriate! “Seeing around corners and anticipating and preparing for well thought-out transitions.”
Chapman’s closing paragraph is both a metaphor and a clear statement of “grace,” which by definition is the salvation of sinners as well as simple elegance and refinement.)
“An evanescent light hangs over the West Mesa in full autumn bloom. Countless yellow snakeweed blossoms shimmer like gold in the early morning, accented by scattered strands of purple aster. For millions of years, this season has transformed desert rock into a garden, changing even the most formidable terrain into a vision of Eden.”
A Killer’s Grace will stay with you long after you finish reading the final page. From the high desert of New Mexico comes a tale of mystery, murder and redemption. When journalist Kevin Pitcairn receives a disturbing letter from a serial killer, he is drawn into a compelling journey with profound psychological and spiritual implications, not just for the murderer, but for himself and society as a whole. As he tries to investigate and then tell the story, he finds himself battling his own inner demons and sordid history. Events conspire to propel an isolated matter to a national stage and audiences that are increasingly hostile. Forced to explore the roots of human psychology and sanity, Pitcairn must navigate moral and philosophical realms. What is the nature of evil? What powers of choice do humans actually possess? How may we be redeemed? And in the end, how do we reconcile with ourselves?
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books; 2 edition (September 1, 2016)
About the Author
Ronald Chapman is owner of an international speaking and consulting company, Magnetic North LLC. In addition to international accreditation as a speaker and national awards for radio commentary, he is the author of two novels, My Name is Wonder (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016) and A Killer’s Grace (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016 and 2012), two works of non-fiction, Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008) and What a Wonderful World: Seeing Through New Eyes (Page Free Publishing, 2004) and the producer of three audio sets, Seeing True: The Way of Spirit (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2016, 2005), Breathing, Releasing and Breaking Through: Practices for Seeing True (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2015), and Seeing True–The Way of Success in Leadership (Magnetic North Audio, 2005).
Ron provides a wide array of social media content at www.SeeingTrue.com, content for people in substance abuse recovery at www.ProgressiveRecovery.org, and other content from his master site, www.RonaldChapman.com. He holds a Masters in Social Welfare from The University at Albany (New York.) Prior to his relocation to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008, he was a long-time resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ronald Chapman’s websites:
http://www.RonaldChapman.com/ for other information from the author.
http://www.SeeingTrue.com/ for ongoing social media content including blogs, v-logs, graphical materials, etc.
http://www.ProgressiveRecovery.com/ for materials relevant to those in recovery from substance abuse.