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When a Catholic priest is found murdered in his New Orleans rectory, the aging pastor who discovers the body calls on his loyal nephew to help conceal evidence that might implicate the dead priest as a child sex offender.

As Father McMurray and his nephew, Peter Moore, become enmeshed in a cover-up that involves the Church hierarchy and an obliging district attorney, the two men grapple with the moral consequences of their participation, which has compromised their integrity and threatens to shatter their faith.

In the course of their own private investigation, Father McMurray and Peter Moore eventually discover who murdered the priest and are confronted by the killer in a chilling finale.

OUTCRY WITNESS provides an insider’s view of how sex abuse crimes have taken place for decades among the Catholic clergy and how innocent lives have been destroyed.

Award-winning author Thomas Zigal spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, OUTCRY WITNESS:

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

The biggest challenge was to write about heinous crimes against children without lapsing into sensationalism and melodrama. And to portray how ethical Catholics could get caught up in an immoral cover-up. The biggest opportunity was to show how good people can find the moral courage to do what is right, in spite of the pressures from “the higher authorities.”

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I have been publishing crime novels since 1995, and I find that this approach captures the attention of readers and helps me focus on issues I find important and want to share. One reviewer noted that I write “page-turners with a conscience,” and it is the mystery/thriller/crime/suspense genre that gives me permission to explore territory that is usually ignored in other forms of fiction.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will get a clear understanding of how the Catholic hierarchy was able to cover up the sexual abuses of children by clergymen for decades. And I hope readers will read this story and continue to support the victims of those abuses and hold accountable those in authority who either turned their backs on these crimes or sheltered the perpetrators.


Thomas Zigal is the author of seven novels and numerous short stories and essays. His novels have won the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the fiction award from the Philosophical Society of Texas, and the Violet Crown Award from the Writers’ League of Texas. Outcry Witness is the final novel in his New Orleans trilogy, which includes the award-winning Many Rivers to Cross (TCU Press, 2013). Zigal lives in Austin, Texas.

To learn more about Thomas and his work, please visit his website.