5 stars out of 5
After I read Blood Sacrifice, which is No. 5 in the series featuring North Florida prison chaplain and former cop John Jordan, I loved it so much I knew I wouldn't stop until I'd read others - even if it meant reading them out of order. If my experience with that one taught me nothing else (except what a terrific writer Michael Lister is), it's that these books can stand alone (read my review of that one at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/880641103).
Since I'm always looking for bargains, I didn't rush out to buy another one, though, and as it turns out I'm glad. Not long after I finished Blood Sacrifice, I was notified of a credit to my Amazon account as a result of a class-action settlement regarding Kindle book pricing, and I was able to snag two more of the series including this one. It's No. 4, and I had zero problem with reading it even though I'd already read the one that follows.
And happily, it didn't disappoint. This one takes place in the Potter Correctional Institution's Protective Management Unit, which houses inmates who, for various reasons, aren't likely to live long and prosper in the "regular" part of the prison. Jordan is here because he received a note claiming that a murder will take place during the Catholic Mass. Just after the elderly priest serves communion - the body and blood - Jordan sees an inmate enter a cell alone, and shortly thereafter blood begins to spread out from under the locked door.
Sure enough, the inmate is dead - his throat cut quite recently - but no one else entered or exited the cell. It turns out that the inmate, a very talented artist, may have been an innocent man - and a man who, for a different reason, was to be released in a few days. One question, of course, is why he was killed, but an even more puzzling one is how. It seems impossible that anyone could have gone in or out without being seen.
As the story moves along, still more crimes turn up, and the number of suspects grows as well. On the list of possibilities are a couple of unit officers, the victim's sister, a few inmates (one of whom is the victim's lover) and even the elderly priest. Meantime, Jordan is trying to get his jumbled personal life in order, having recently entered into a tentative reconciliation with his estranged wife Susan.
Interspersed is a bit of humor - in his car being followed by two suspicious characters, for instance, Jordan muses that if they catch him, he'll have to pull out the only weapon he has at hand - a Barry Manilow CD.
Lister has another winner on his hands, and now I can't wait to start the other one I have (Rivers to Blood, which is book No. 6.
The Body and the Blood by Michael Lister (Pulpwood Press, December 2011); 336 pp.