Mark Anderlee, once a victim of sexual abuse, now a battle-hardened Army sniper and veteran of the war on terror, takes a vow one day in the searing desert of northern Iraq to wreak vengeance on his childhood tormentor. Half a world away, Archbishop Wilfred Gunnison prepares for a jubilee celebration of his priesthood--oblivious to the juggernaut creeping his way.
When Gunnison receives a mysterious and potentially lethal threat, he calls on Bishop Bryn Martin, his former Master of Ceremonies--the man whose job it has always been to maintain appearances--to protect him and to keep a quickly unraveling situation from exploding beyond repair.
A secret society with roots deep in the Vatican power structure is roused to action when an American leader of the cabal makes a panicked trip to Rome. That Brotherhood's covert leader, known only as M, dispatches forces of his own to do whatever must be done to keep his operation functioning in obscurity and darkness. Unexpected forces, threats seen and unseen, the character's own hubris and humility all drive this story of sin and silence, intrigue, violence and retribution to its not-so-inevitable conclusion.
Critically-acclaimed author Donald Cozzens takes us behind the scenes of the Roman Catholic Church for an unflinching look at clergy sexual abuse and its very personal consequences. Cozzens weaves an intricate story of scholars and trained killers, bishops and priests, church ladies and clandestine operatives struggling--each in their own way--to protect the institution they venerate or to blow the lid off the oldest boys' club in the world.
Currently Writer in Residence at John Carroll University, this pastor, professor, and author is a noted national and international commentator on religious and cultural issues, especially those relating to the sexual and financial crises gripping the Catholic Church. The New York Times says,"…Donald Cozzens…is one of the most-respected moderate voices on Catholic issues…" (February 13, 2011). He has appeared twice on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press, (March 31, 2002 and June 16, 2002) and has been interviewed on Fresh Air, All Things Considered, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, BBC radio and television, CNN, and other major television networks. Cozzens’ award-winning and best-selling book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood (Liturgical Press, 2000) has been translated into eight languages, including Korean. His subsequent books include the award winning Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church (2002), Faith That Dares to Speak (2004), and Freeing Celibacy (2006); Notes from the Underground: The Spiritual Journal of a Secular Priest (Orbis Books, 2013). In 2015, Cozzens’ award winning first novel was published by ACTA/In Extenso. A priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, Cozzens has lectured throughout the United States and in Ireland, England, Australia, Colombia, and India.
The Brotherhood of the Sacred Purple…Vatican intrigue…celibacy—yes or no?…the riches and blemishes of Church history…clerical careerists…sexual abuse…courageous women. Ah, Don Cozzens serves up a rich and tasty stew of events and characters in Master of Ceremonies. The ultimate insider takes us behind the impenetrable curtains of Church life; he knows where the bodies are buried and where to look for the skeletons.
- Paul Wilkes, author, In Due Season: A Catholic Life
Most Catholics are sick and tired of news about priests who abused children and bishops who covered up for them. So a good many may not welcome a mystery novel about the same. This, however, is no fictional attempt to rehash decades of old news. Rather, “Master of Ceremonies” is at once informative, entertaining and inspirational.
- Mitch Finley, CatholicPhilly.com
As a non-Catholic, I found this to be an engaging and honest look at an issue faced by the entire Christian community. Cozzens develops complex characters that are hard to label. A retired CIA agent who reluctantly breaks the law for a higher cause. A corrupt and scheming priest who misguidedly tries to "protect" the church. Even an archbishop who, even while justifying egregious sin, has a inner voice that knows better. You won't find any simplistic analysis here. You will sense the pain that child abuse has wreaked upon the Christian community and a way out of the duplicity and shame. It's been a while since a book pulled me through one chapter to the next without the least bit of discipline on my part.
- D. McClellan
Father Cozzens has combined his candid and compelling concerns about the Catholic church and its institutional shortcoming with his love for the core values of the church in a compelling page turner which is part “who done it”, detective story, and murder mystery. The spirit of Pope Francis percolates throughout the novel. I read it in one sitting and could not put it down. If you read it, I can assure you that you will not forget it.
- C. Reitz
Fascinating novel by my friend Father Don Cozzens. I finished it at 1 a.m. Made me cheer for the women who hold this Church together.
- Regina Brett, Cleveland Plain Dealer