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The Bishop's Man Paperback – Deckle Edge, Aug 3 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Aug. 3 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307357074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307357076
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Father Duncan MacAskill is called The Exorcist. Not in the traditional sense, however: at his bishop’s bidding, he drives out devils of a different sort – priests who molest children. He does not banish the devils to hell, nor to the police, but to discreet clinics or simply to far-off parishes to commence their sins anew. MacAskill’s loathsome bishop has a heart of ice. He refuses to see abused children as victims. They are merely troublesome complainers who need to be silenced. The Exorcist is more sympathetic, but still he obeys the bishop. Despite his own celibacy and sobriety issues, MacAskill is the closest thing to a hero in Linden MacIntyre’s riveting new novel, The Bishop’s Man, a searing indictment of the Catholic church. MacAskill is sent to a rural parish in his native Cape Breton, which is also the author’s native land. There, while wrestling with his own demons, MacAskill encounters a troubled young man who appears to be the victim of a notorious priest. MacAskill is determined to help this man, regardless of the consequences for the church. His subsequent investigation takes him on a sordid and surprising path. Despite being a work of fiction, The Bishop’s Man has the ring of truth. Indeed, MacIntyre writes with great authority. The past few decades have seen a stream of stories about church sex abuse scandals in Canada, the U.S., and Ireland. We feel we know this issue, yet we learn so much more from MacIntyre’s very credible, complex characters. This novel is not perfect. At times, the plot is convoluted and the back-and-forth chronology gets rather tiresome. Generally, however, it is a well-crafted, brave, and painful examination of one of the most monstrous issues of our time. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


The Bishop’s Man centres on a sensitive topic — the sexual abuses perpetrated by Catholic priests on the innocent children in their care. Father Duncan, the first person narrator, has been his bishop's dutiful enforcer, employed to check the excesses of priests and, crucially, to suppress the evidence. But as events veer out of control, he is forced into painful self-knowledge as family, community and friendship are torn apart under the strain of suspicion, obsession and guilt. A brave novel, conceived and written with impressive delicacy and understanding.”
— Statement by Jury, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, 2009

"A novel with the ring of truth.... The Bishop's Man is perhaps as close as we will get to eavesdropping on the private conversations we were never meant to hear among clergy or between clergy and 'complainers.'"
— The Gazette

"Engrossing...a serious examination of the theme [the sexual abuse of children] with the page-turning energy of a thriller."
— The Globe and Mail

Praise for Linden MacIntyre:

“MacIntyre isn’t just another face and larynx from television [but] an honest-to-God writer…”
Winnipeg Free Press

“MacIntyre is a fine writer.”
— Alistair MacLeod

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Bishop's Man is a wonderful book. It explores the many facets which contributed to and resulted from the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, through the story of a priest in Cape Breton.
The book follows Father Duncan McAskill on his journey from a difficult childhood through a career as a priest. He has been used by his bishop to help in supppressing scandals by being the messenger who has notified priests that they are to be moved. As he struggles with the realities of a Church hierarchy in denial, the loneliness and isolation of priests in small communities and the heartbreaking sense of betrayal and confusion in the faithful laity, he comes to a personal crisis in his own vocation. The characters are wonderfully drawn,and realistic. The book reads like a thriller and once I started it, I did not want to put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book immensely. As a Catholic, I was somewhat shocked and certainly disturbed to read about the commonplace nature of the demons that haunt priests. The book drives home the fact that they are men - human beings - and with that, have all the frailties and weaknesses that each of us have. But mostly, I found this a truly fascinating glimpse into the private lives of priests, especially the lonliness and isolation that plague so many of them. By definition, their lives are on the ouside of the bustling family business they oversee in their parishes.

I was drawn to this book and couldn't wait to finish it. When I did, I missed the main characted and still think about him, and the book, often. I highly recommend The Bishop's Man.
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Format: Hardcover
As soon as you read the sypnosis, you might groan in anticipation of some sordid journey into the loathsome depths of some scumbag religion's dark and dirty cellar. But you would be wrong. This is a book that tries, at least, to be fair about the Catholic church's overall legacy and function, realistically portraying the challenges that come up.

The protagonist is a clean-up man, designated by his bishop to sweep scandal under the rug. MacIntyre does a superb job of taking us inside the mind of this man, showing how his life of suppressing the human dignity of his victim in order to preserve the aura of institutional integrity has slowly drained him. At the same, as an intelligent, emotional being, he realizes this and is beginning to comprehend just how much of an impact his role in life is having. The book is about him slowly groping towards redemption.

The Globe and Mail reviewer put it well I think, when he/she said this book ultimately contains more contrition than redemption.

Also, in spite of the dark subject matter, this book uses suspense ably to compel the reader to turn the pages. So this is a literary book that actually has the potential to appeal to a fairly wide audience. About time, I'd say.
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Format: Hardcover
I work at a bookstore, and whenever I tell people what The Bishop's Man is about they most often scrunch up their nose and say: "Oh, that's too depressing. I don't want to read about that." Or some variation of this. I decided to give the book a try myself, to see if it really was the depressing subject that people assumed. Although the issue of abuse within the church is a depressing subject, the way that it is handled in MacIntyre's book is not in such a way that it weighs so heavily on you that you feel you can't breathe--quite the opposite actually: the book is meditative, philosophical, and deals with a dark subject in a way that doesn't block out all the light.

The first person perspective probably has a lot to do with this, and was a good choice on MacIntyre's part. Father Duncan is a great character, a flawed character (but all great characters are) with a unique and comforting voice that guides us through the darkest parts of this tale of abuse, suicide, lost faith, and moral dilemmas. It can even be (gasp) funny at times.

I was pulled deep into the mystery of this story, and MacIntyre really works the mystery level, keeping the reader in the dark mostly about pivotal events in the book until the last fifty pages or so when things are finally revealed. This kind of secret keeping could have been a cheap trick to build suspense but MacIntyre managed it well for the most part, and kept me turning the pages for 4 hours straight one night in order to finish the thing.

The style is one of a time line that jumps around a bit, but is less confusing than it can be frustrating in its jaggedness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Linden MacIntyre, an award winning author and journalist, has written a novel about a Cape Breton priest, Father Duncan MacAskill, and his life and work in a rural parish on the blessed island. The underlying tension comes from his reputation as the "Bishop's Man" who helps the church avoid scandal by moving troublesome clerics around, away, for treatment etc. But there is much more to this novel which is about a man struggling with himself, his calling, his hopes, memories and dreams. Clergy will recognize many of their own strains and stresses in this story. Lay people will find their own ministries challenged and confirmed. There are wonderful descriptions of the Cape Breton landscape and moods especially for those who live near the ocean. In spite of its dark themes, I ended reading this with a sense of hope and faith in the possibilities of redemption.
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