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Monday, March 12, 2018

The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly!

Book Review

The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly
Publisher: Cavan Bridge Press
Publication Date: September 28, 2017
Format: Paperback - 272 pages
               Kindle - 2259 KB
               Nook - 634 KB
ISBN: 978-0998749303
BNID: 2940158679810
Genre: Political Thriller

Purchase Links: 
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

When journalist Peter Merrick is asked to write a eulogy for his mentor, Jesuit priest James Ingram, his biggest concern is doing right by the man. But when his routine research reveals disturbing ties to sexual abuse and clues to a shadowy deal trading justice for power, everything he believed about his friend is called into question. With the US presidential election looming, incumbent Arthur Wyncott is quickly losing ground among religious voters. Meanwhile, Owen Feeney, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is facing nearly a billion dollars in payments to victims of sex abuse. When Feeney hits on a solution to both men’s problems, it seems the stars have aligned. That is until Ally Larkin—Wyncott’s brilliant campaign aide—starts to piece together the shocking details. As the election draws closer and the stakes get higher, each choice becomes a calculation: Your faith, or your church? Your principles, or your candidate? The person you most respect, or the truth that could destroy their legacy?

When the line between right and wrong is blurred, how do you act, and whom do you save?

Book Excerpt:

When Peter Merrick’s cell phone rang around ten on a Monday morning, his first instinct was to ignore it. Anyone who knew him well enough to call that number would know he had a deadline for the last of a three-part series he was working on for the Economist. It was his first foray into magazine writing in some time, and he’d made it clear to his wife, his editors, and even the family dog that he wasn’t to be disturbed until after the last piece was done and delivered.
Several months had passed since his return from an extended and harrowing assignment tracking UN peacekeeping operations on the Kashmiri border with Pakistan, where violent protests had erupted following the death of a local Hizbul Mujahideen military commander. The assignment had left him with what his wife, Emma, solemnly declared to be post-traumatic stress disorder. It was, in his opinion, a dubious diagnosis she’d made based on nothing more than an Internet search, and he felt those covering the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan deserved greater sympathy. He’d been a bystander to tragedy, he told anyone who asked, not a victim.
One morning as he’d stood drinking strong Turkish coffee on the terrace of his apartment in Jammu, he watched as a car bomb detonated in front of the school across the road. No children were killed. It was a Saturday, and teachers had gathered there to meet with members of a French NGO dedicated to training staff at schools in developing nations. The arm landed on his terrace with a loud thud before Peter realized what it was. Pinned to the shoulder of what remained of its shirt was a name tag identifying Sheeraza Akhtar, presumably one of the teachers. At the time, he marveled at his complete lack of reaction to the torn limb, at the way his response was to read the letters on the tag, grab a pen, and start writing down details of the event—a description of jewelry on the woman’s hand, the streak of half-cauterized flesh running from where it tore from the arm socket to the bottom of her palm, the way smoke curled from the remains of the school’s front entrance, and the pitiful two-ambulance response that limped its way to the scene nearly twenty minutes after the explosion.
Even now as he recalled the moment, he wouldn’t describe what he felt as horror or disgust, just a complete separation from everything around him, an encompassing numbness. His wife kept telling him he needed to talk to someone about what he was feeling. But that was just the point, he thought, even if he couldn’t say it to her. He couldn’t quite articulate what he was feeling, beyond paralysis. Making the most rudimentary decisions had been excruciating since his return. It required shaking off the dull fog he’d come to prefer, the one that rescued him from having to connect to anything. The pangs of anxiety constricting his chest as he glanced from the screen of the laptop to his jangling cell phone were the most palpable emotional response he’d had in recent memory. The interruption required a decision of some kind. He wasn’t certain he could comply.
But in keeping with the career he had chosen, curiosity got the better of him. He looked at the incoming number. The area code matched that of his hometown in central Connecticut, less than an hour from where he and Emma now lived in Tarrytown, but his parents had long since retired to South Carolina. He made his decision to answer just as the call went to voice mail, which infuriated him even more than the interruption. For Peter, missing something by mere minutes or seconds was the sign of a journalist who didn’t do his job, who failed to act in time. Worse, he’d allowed a good number of calls to go to voice mail while under his deadline, and the thought of having to sift through them all made him weary. The phone buzzed to announce a new message. He looked again from his screen to the phone, paralyzed by the uncertainty and all-consuming indecision he’d begun exhibiting upon his return from Kashmir. After several minutes of failed progress on his article, the right words refusing to come to him, he committed to the message.
He grabbed the phone and dialed, browsing online news sites as inconsequential voices droned on. His editor. His sister. His roommate from college asking if he’d heard the news and to call him back. Finally, a message from Patricia Roedlin in the Office of Public Affairs at his alma mater, Ignatius University in Greenwich, Connecticut. Father Ingram, the president of the university, had passed away unexpectedly, and the university would be delighted if one of their most successful graduates would be willing to write a piece celebrating his life for the Hartford Courant.
The news failed to register. Again, a somewhat common experience since his return. He tapped his fingers on the desk and spotted the newspaper on the floor where Emma had slipped it under the door. In the course of their ten-year marriage, Peter had almost never closed his office door. “If I can write an article with mortar shells falling around me, I think I can handle the sound of a food processor,” he had joked. But lately that had changed, and Emma had responded without comment, politely leaving him alone when the door was shut and sliding pieces of the outside world in to him with silent cooperation. He picked up the newspaper, scanned the front page, and moved on to the local news. There it was, in a small blurb on page three. “Pedestrian Killed in Aftermath of Ice Storm.” The aging president of a local university was the victim of an accident after leaving a diner in Bronxville. His body was found near the car he’d parked on a side street. Wounds to the back of his head were consistent with a fall on the ice, and hypothermia was believed to be the cause of death.
To Peter’s eye the name of the victim, James Ingram, stuck out in bold print. An optical illusion, he knew, but it felt real. He reached for the second drawer on the right side of his desk and opened it. A pile of envelopes rested within. He rooted around and grasped one. The stamp was American but the destination was Peter’s address in Jammu. The script was at once shaky and assured, flourishes on the ending consonants with trembling hesitation in the middle. Folded linen paper fell from the opened envelope with little prompting. He scanned the contents of the letter, front and back, until his eyes landed on the closing lines.

"Well, Peter my boy, it’s time for me to close this missive. You may well be on your way to Kabul or Beirut by the time this reaches you, but I have no small belief that the comfort it is meant to bring will find its way to you regardless of borders.
You do God’s work, Peter. Remember, the point of faith isn’t to explain away all the evil in this world. It’s meant to help you live here in spite of it.
Benedictum Nomen Iesu,
Ingram, SJ

Peter dialed Patricia Roedlin’s number. She was so happy to hear from him it made him uncomfortable. “I’d be honored to write a piece,” he spoke into the phone. “He talked about you to anyone who would listen, you know,” she said. “I think he would be pleased. Really proud.” He heard her breath catch in her throat, the stifled sobs that had likely stricken her since she’d heard the news.
“It’s okay,” he found himself saying to this complete stranger, an effort to head off her tears. “I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if it weren’t for him.” He hoped it would give her time to recover. “He was an extraordinary man and an outstanding teacher.”
Patricia’s breathing slowed as she regained control. “I hope to do him justice,” Peter finished. It was only when he hung up the phone that he noticed them, the drops of liquid that had accumulated on the desk where he’d been leaning forward as he talked. He lifted a hand to his face and felt the moisture line from his eye to his chin. After several long months at home, the tears had finally come.
Excerpt from The Shepherd's Calculus by C.S. Farrelly. Copyright © 2017 by C.S. Farrelly. Reproduced with permission from C.S. Farrelly. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, The Shepherd's Calculus, author C.S. Farrelly weaves a compelling political thriller that delves into the intriguing intersection of politics and religion. It is a multi-layered tale that masterfully interweaves how power and money influence political and religious choices and decisions. Mix in deception, hidden agendas and dark secrets, political posturing, Church corruption, and the sobering child sexual abuse cases by priests, and you have an intriguing tale about a tangled and devious web created by political players and church leaders to each get what they want at any cost.

As a fan of political thrillers, I was fascinated by the author's interweaving of politics and religion. I was intrigued by the variety of cut-throat political campaign strategies utilized to get the votes in their candidate's favor. As a Catholic, I thought that the author's examination of the Catholic Church's history of maintaining silence in regard to the traumatically scandalous child sexual abuse cases by priests until it was brought to light by the unified voices of the survivors, and how the Church continued to cover it up in an attempt to avoid the serious propensity and monetary backlash, was very sobering, disturbing, and thought-provoking.

The Sheperd's Calculus is a well-written and compelling political thriller. It has realistic characters, and a believable political and religious opportunistic pairing with enough drama and intriguing plot twists that will keep the reader engaged and turning the pages until the surprising conclusion.


About The Author

C.S. Farrelly

C.S. Farrelly was raised in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. A graduate of Fordham University (BA, English), her eclectic career has spanned a Manhattan investment bank, the NYC Department of Education and, most recently, the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar and obtained a master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a George J. Mitchell Scholar.

She has lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Ireland, and England. An avid hiker, she camped her way through East Africa, from Victoria Falls to Nairobi. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

The Shepherd’s Calculus is her first novel.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for C.S. Farrelly. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Giftcard. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2018 and runs through April 2, 2018. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

02/01 Interview @ BooksChatter 
02/02 Review @ The World As I See It 
02/02 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape 
02/02 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge 
02/02 Showcase @ Tome Tender 
02/03 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader 
02/04 Interview @ Mythical Books 
02/05 Guest post @ Writers and Authors 
02/05 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf 
02/06 Review @ Quiet Fury Books 
02/08 Showcase @ Books, Dreams, Life 
02/09 Interview @ A Blue Million Books 
02/13 Blog Talk Radio with Fran Lewis 
02/13 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner 
02/13 Review @ Just Reviews 
02/14 Review @ Booklove 
02/16 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads 
02/21 Review @ Bookishly me 
02/22 Review @ Lazy Day Books 
02/27 Guest post @ 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News 
03/01 Showcase @ Buried Under Books 
03/02 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine 
03/12 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews 
03/12 Review @ CMash Reads
03/13 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads 
03/13 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy 
03/15 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews 
03/26 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews


  1. I agree. This book was definitely a page turner.

    1. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for the opportunity feature the book on my blog. I really found this book to be very intriguing. :)

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to read it and for your review! I'm glad you liked it and hope your readers do, too!

    1. Hi C.S.! Thank you for the opportunity to host your tour on my blog. I really enjoyed reading the book. I look forward to reading more of your books in the future. :)