The Good Vicar – RJ Whitfield
The Good Vicar by RJ Whitfield is a book which has grown on me. I may have mentioned elsewhere that this is not a book I would have read by choice because it has an element of the super-natural which I tend to avoid. However, as proofreader, editor and then publisher I ended up reading the book more than once – I think about five times. This might suggest a bias, which I don’t deny, but given my tendency to avoid this type of story, the bias is reduced.
The book tells of a vicar, Andrew also known as The Good Vicar, having a vision to visit a paedophile in prison. The paedophile, Paul McCready, has had a Saul of Damascus moment. (For those not offay with Saul’s story, he was blinded by a light on his way to Damascus. This blinding experience convinced him that he needed to stop persecuting the Christians.) McCready wants the vicar to vouch for his change of heart and organise for him to attend the funeral of one of the vicar’s parishners. The vicar’s attempts to reconcile his vision with the reality of his position affects his home life as well as that of others. His faith and values are challenged along the way. The question is, how does he deal with McCready’s wish?
Each reading of The Good Vicar has yielded new insights into the story and it’s for this reason that I recommend the book. At its most basic, it’s a mild thriller. At other levels it touches on Christian religous topics and the super-natural in the form of The Rat, a figure which appears human but which has other powers. Attitudes towards those who are different, issues of fidelity and nature versus nurture are topics or themes which feature, challenging the assumptions society tends to hold.