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Sign of the Cross: A Mystery [Paperback]

Anne Emery
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 1 2008 A Collins-Burke Mystery
Monty Collins is a sharp-tongued public defender who just wants to represent an upstanding character for a change. A priest with something to hide isn't quite what he had hoped for, but when the literate, arrogant, and tight-lipped Father Brennan Burke is implicated in the strange murder of a young woman, Monty doesn't just take the case—the case takes him. When Burke won't come clean, Monty is forced to play private detective, traveling into his client's past. Things look good for the case until another body is found, marked with the same telltale sign as the first. Burke keeps mum, alternate suspects are ruled out, and the trial looks like it might be lost before deliberation. As if it couldn't get any worse, Monty's wisecracking ex-wife enters the picture, and she seems to know more about Burke than Monty does. Evidence and coincidence pile up, leading to a revelation neither Monty nor the reader see coming.

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Sign of the Cross: A Mystery + Obit: A Mystery + Barrington Street Blues
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From Booklist

Defense attorney Monty Collins is handed the biggest case of his career: defending a priest accused of murder. But when the priest is reluctant to contribute to help his cause (not to mention extremely secretive about his past), Monty takes the unusual step of investigating his own client. And he finds a lot more than he bargained for. This debut novel, set in Halifax, Nova Scotia, benefits from its setting: the plot may be relatively familiar to legal-thriller fans, but the unfamiliar locale freshens up the story considerably. Readers who know the setting, too, will enjoy playing spot-the-landmark, as the author solidly anchors her story in the landscapes. Collins may not be a blindingly original character, but he's solidly built, and we like spending time with him. The novel's final paragraph seems to guarantee a sequel, and this isn't bad news. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Anne Emery has produced a stunning first novel...that is at once a mystery, a thriller and a love story."  —Halifax Chronicle Herald


"Halifax writer Emery will keep your already hot blood boiling thanks to this compelling legal drama."  —Hour


"A smart, elegantly written courtroom drama that will, I hope, be the first of many."  —Calgary Herald
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Legal Thriller July 10 2010
By Debra Purdy Kong TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Attorney Montague (Monty) Collins has the client from hell in Father Brennan Burke. The priest is surly, cynical, secretive, arrogant, and Monty has to stop him from being sent to prison on two first-degree murder charges. Father Burke insists someone's framing him, but as Monty investigates, he begins to have doubts. Regardless of Burke's guilt or innocence, Monty knows defending this man will be enormously difficult. Adding to Monty's stress is an unsettled personal life as he and his ex-wife Maura try to remain civil to one another for their children's sake. Maura also happens to be an excellent lawyer and Monty needs her help. That she and the irritating Brennan seem to hit it off only irks Monty further.

What can I say about Sign of the Cross but wow! This book is everything I look for in a mystery: memorable, well-developed characters, a compelling plot, and great writing. Tension flowed through every page with mounting suspense. That author Anne Emery clearly knows Catholicism, lawyers, and court proceedings, all adds up to one amazing legal thriller that I couldn't put down. There is so much depth to this mystery, so much to think about, and such a satisfying ending that I really wanted their stories to continue. Happily, Emery has another Monty Collins' novel called Obit. I can't wait!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-written, deftly executed mystery Sept. 15 2006
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After two women with links to him are murdered, Roman Catholic priest Father Brennan Burke finds himself the chief suspect in the brutal slayings. Asked by a mutual friend to undertake the defense of the handsome, roguish, difficult clergyman, local attorney Monty Collins starts to make inquiries into the ritualistic killings, and into Burke's past, discovering that his client led a wild life both before and after taking his vows. Collins has to deal with aggressive policemen, an opportunistic prosecutor, a shrewish ex-wife and a tight- lipped, extremely volatile client in his quest to clear the priest of the crimes. Collins quickly concludes that he must uncover the identity of the real killer, because the authorities are confident they have the right man, even though the evidence against him is strictly circumstantial.

Exhibiting no grievous flaws, Emery's debut is a well-written, deftly executed mystery. Thoughtful and challenging, Sign of the Cross emphasizes character over action; content to keep the more sensational violence off stage, the main focus of the book falls on the often tense relationship which develops between the oftentimes passive but forthright Collins, and the aggressive but extremely secretive Burke, whose reluctance to discuss his past may prove his downfall. The story's power is derived from this intense pairing, as the two warily circle each other even as they become fast friends. Both are so fully realized that readers will find themselves becoming annoyed with the pair as they demonstrate their less likable traits, as if they're actually interacting with the characters themselves.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read and it is set in Canadian...a bonus Aug. 10 2009
By JAGL - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are a mystery/crime fiction reader you will enjoy the story and will consider the characters friends by the time you are finished. If you are a Canadian or someone who has visited or lived in Halifax you will feel like you are back home. Good author. I plan on reading the next book in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Legal Thriller July 10 2010
By Debra Purdy Kong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Attorney Montague (Monty) Collins has the client from hell in Father Brennan Burke. The priest is surly, cynical, secretive, arrogant, and Monty has to stop him from being sent to prison on two first-degree murder charges. Father Burke insists someone's framing him, but as Monty investigates, he begins to have doubts. Regardless of Burke's guilt or innocence, Monty knows defending this man will be enormously difficult. Adding to Monty's stress is an unsettled personal life as he and his ex-wife Maura try to remain civil to one another for their children's sake. Maura also happens to be an excellent lawyer and Monty needs her help. That she and the irritating Brennan seem to hit it off only irks Monty further.

What can I say about Sign of the Cross but wow! This book is everything I look for in a mystery: memorable, well-developed characters, a compelling plot, and great writing. Tension flowed through every page with mounting suspense. That author Anne Emery clearly knows Catholicism, lawyers, and court proceedings, all adds up to one amazing legal thriller that I couldn't put down. There is so much depth to this mystery, so much to think about, and such a satisfying ending that I really wanted their stories to continue. Happily, Emery has another Monty Collins' novel called Obit. I can't wait!
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