The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale

By John Darrin

I have a theory about authors. It’s not a very original theory, nor is it startling in its concept. Everyone has a shadow personality, I believe. One that resides only in our heads, and occasionally escapes, often to our chagrin. I think that there are two groups who intentionally let this shadow come into the light: authors and sociopaths.

That’s not to say that authors are sociopaths, and certainly not Patricia Hale, only that we share a trait. In one case, it manifests as anti-social behavior. In the other, it’s codifying all sorts of behavior – some of it anti-social.

Which brings us to Patricia Hale, her new book, THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY CHILD, and its particular brand of anti-social behavior. Pat is the furthest thing from a sociopath. She’s your neighbor. She’s a wife, she’s a mother, she works at a holistic veterinary hospital, she has dogs and a cat. She has an MFA! Sociopaths are automatically excluded from that program during the application process. Right there, I think it’s toward the end – “Are you a sociopath (Yes/No)?”

So, where does her shadow personality reside, and what does it look like?

Let’s start with a synopsis of THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY CHILD and see if there are any clues.

A woman with a history of domestic abuse is reported missing and later found dead. Her husband is charged as the likely killer but her sister, suspicious of the police efforts, contacts a private investigator and the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan take the case. The discovery of a second body exhibiting the same lethal wounds, and with ties to a nearby women’s shelter, leads to questions and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. While bodies continue to surface, one person knows the killer—Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child. In the sanctity of the Confessional, he listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the vows that bind him to secrecy. When Cole’s ex-wife goes missing, the case takes an unexpected and personal turn and a connection to his past and the women’s shelter points to the killer.

A lot of bases covered there—domestic violence, serial murder, religious ethics and codes, A psychopathic killer, and more. You’ll have to read the book to get the ‘more’. But does any of this give us insight into the author? In our Q&A, Hale did reveal some interesting quirks. For example, there’s the polka dot bikini. My research turned up a photo of her in it, and while she says, “I am proud of it and I flash it regularly,” she refused to let me publish it here.

There is also the mug shot. She claims it’s not her, and even if it were, she didn’t do it. I admit the resemblance is a bit sketchy, but it’s right there, in gruesome black and white. Google it.

And her “drug of choice” is Wheat Thins. With Trader Joe’s guacamole. Is there any more disturbing combination? Wheat thins—the white bread of snack foods. And Trader Joe? Isn’t he the definition of cultural appropriation? Put them together, with Hale’s rigid demand for white wine in the summer and red in the winter, and you have a desperate cry for rehab.

Even though she lives in New Hampshire, she claims at heart to be a Maine-y-ack. (That’s how all of us familiar with that remote and beautiful state describe the inhabitants.) She lived there for 20 years and is plotting her return as I type this. The only thing in Maine even close to sociopathy that I can think of is Stephen King. In another interview, Pat did note that he is her favorite author, and she uses On Writing for inspiration. A good choice.

All of this shadow personality thing is running a bit thin, don’t you think? Bikinis? Wheat thins? Stephen King? None of this points to anything remotely sinister. I guess I’ll have to conclude that she has successfully hidden it from me, and that her vivid imagination only reveals itself in her books.

Speaking of which, there are two more coming in this series. I’ll let her describe them.

“In the second book, Durable Goods, Britt goes undercover looking for a missing girl and ends up over her head in the sex trade industry. The third book in the series is Scar Tissue. Britt and Griff are hired to investigate a young girl’s suicide. In their search for a reason why, they uncover the lines parents will cross to insure success as well as revenge.”

Getting even further away from shadow personalities, Hale, like all authors, has cast the movie version of Church. She wants Hugh Jackman as Griff (the Swordfish Hugh, not the Broadway one in gold lamé pants) and Natalie Portman as Britt. I’d pay to see that movie.

*****

Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY CHILD, released August 15, 2017, is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance.

She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs. To learn more about Patricia, please visit her website.

John Darrin

John Darrin is a consultant on radiological emergency preparedness for homeland security. His work has taken him all over the world, and includes many unique and first-ever projects.A widower, John lives full-time in his RV and travels the country on the Go Places / Meet People / Do Things Tour.

Visit John at: www.johndarrin.com.

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