Our Illinois lawyer Timothy Capps has just been interviewed by the literary magazine Dappled Things: A Quarterly of Ideas, Art and Faith, about his new genre-bending novel Judging Angels released by Hope and Life Press last month in paperback and ebook editions. Click here to read this great interview and learn about “a fully fleshed-out urban fantasy world based on Catholic theology (dogmatic and speculative), that also explored serious moral dilemmas that don’t always end well for the moral agents involved.”
This book is quite a ride! In reading “Judging Angels,” one finds not so much a suspense/mystery novel as — well, spiritual suspense, I suppose. If science fiction can include beings on other planets, then spiritual suspense can include beings in other planes. There’s more than a touch of “The Twilight Zone” in the deliberate–but never slow–pulling aside of the veil, but there’s none of the preachiness that sometimes came with the show. It’s never heavy-handed and the characters are far more realistic in their individual struggles with their faith than are usually portrayed. There’s a distinct lack of religious tropes — there’s no fanatic, no absolute-denier-turned-convert, no almost-became-a-priest — none of the somewhat cartoonish types seen in most books with ostensibly Catholic characters. There is one small, non-religious trope — a kid has talents that are unexpected and helps save the day. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent story with very little in the way of overused dialogue or plot lines.
What there IS a lot of is well-developed characters and action that follows naturally from their flaws and strengths, both emotional and spiritual. The reactions moving the action along feel authentic, with the characters struggling (sometimes not so much) to rise above their psychological and spiritual injuries.
I can’t remember being so caught up by a story in a long time. The book moves fast; as other reviewers have said, it’s a page-turner. I had committed to reading it during my morning and afternoon train commute, but I broke down and read it over the weekend. The main character, George Able, catches the reader’s attention right off and does not let go. And it isn’t just George; in physics, there is a phenomenon known as the Venturi Effect, in which a fluid is compressed into a narrow space (a tube) and must speed up in order to relieve the pressure. Once the liquid speeds up enough, the pressure drops and forms a vacuum. Each character that comes into George’s life speeds things up that much more in a sort of literary Venturi Effect resulting from the increase in suspense regarding each one’s role and even identity. As in the Venturi Effect, the only way to relieve the pressure (i.e., suspense) is to read faster; and then the reader is caught in the vacuum. But what a ride!
Seriously Catholic! The author, Tim Capps, pulls off a tour de force of the modern challenges of being a practicing Catholic in today’s world. In the guise of a novel, the author presents a serious reflection on sin, temptation and adultery. A serious work for Catholics and wrapped in an entertaining plot. Looking forward to the next installment.
Unique and thrilling take on urban fantasy! Themes of marital strife, estranged family ties and fidelity are thrown for a unique curve ball in this fast-paced, urban fantasy thrill ride. A cast of original, complex characters (including everyone’s soon to be favorite redhead) are interjected into the life of our protagonist, George. On his journey to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Sandy, we are led through a world of forensic analysis, other worldly challenges and well-painted suspense, and mystery on the end of every page. Tim Capps incorporates his knowledge of the legal scene into a world of mystical, harrowing action that makes Judging Angels a compelling page turner. Highly recommended, Judging Angels is an urban fantasy masterpiece that will be difficult to put down and impossible to forget. Hungry for the next installment of the The Rubricatae Chronicles.
Difficult to put this one down! Excellent urban fantasy novel with a frank and, at times, painful exploration of a marriage in its darkest moments. The story deals with characters in difficult situations discovering that it’s not always the best idea to do “anything” to save someone else. It was hard to put this one down. Can’t wait for the next installment!
Awesome read! Loved it. Fresh writing, the style flows well, can’t wait for the next one. Especially like the spiritual aspect of this story.
An action-packed thriller with plenty of food for thought! With its devilish twists and turns, a suicidal lawyer and his explosive family, redheads and thugs, “Judging Angels” keeps you on your toes wondering what will happen next. But the action is dictated by George Able – hero or anti-hero? – whose many quandaries lead him to any number of flawed decisions, sowing destruction along the way. Tim Capps’ writing is humorous and profound. Temptation, suicide, adultery, pride, murder and mayhem follow on each other’s heels in a deeply moral, but never moralizing story. Plenty of violence and sin, but no vulgarity or complacency towards them… There’s even an instance of life-giving love where you would least expect it. It’s a book that’s hard to put down, once you accept to put narrow-minded rationality aside. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
I am not an avid reader of politics and party-line views, however, this book struck me emotionally to the core. Who Are You? What is Your Faith? America’s 21st Century Alt-Right and Catholic Social Doctrine looks back at historical accounts of racist incidents and violence that reopen debate about issues of race and racism in modern-day America. Although the basis of the American principles is on racial equality, liberty and justice for all, readers experience a dilemma between party-line views versus Christian upbringing, in particular Catholicism. The American people of faith draw the line bounded by devotion to politicians and ignore the rights of aliens (including illegal aliens), refugees, the LGBT community, and women’s equality by following an American candidate who completely contradicts their own moral judgments.
Who Are You? What is Your Faith? is a straightforward book that glimpses into the alt-right perspectives and provides a hard look into ourselves. I will admit, it was difficult to read about discrimination and the circumstances surrounding each recorded file, especially the details of racist homicides and slurs. The book awakens its readers to comprehend the facts upfront and to draw out a decisive outcome of the future, both as a country and as Catholics.
The author, Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, has magnificently presented the bottom line of America’s 21st century alt-right and Catholic Social Doctrine by utilizing true data and quotes, plus revealing the legitimacy of the laws of the land based on the US Constitution. I liked this book; it was well-written and is a thought-out book. Readers interested in political viewpoints and who are into the social science of politics and religion, this is the book to read ~ Hadel S. Ma’ayeh, Huffington Post Passionista, author of From the Heart: A Journey of Love.
Bartolo-Abela challenges American Christians, particularly American Catholics, to ask themselves whether the Gospel of Trump is compatible with the Gospel of Christ. Beginning with President Trump’s contested Executive Order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, this book considers the complex and questionable attitudes to non-Whites and non-Western religions that have swirled in American society since its inception. There is a whistle-stop tour of American race relations throughout history, encompassing mistreatment of Native Americans, African American slavery, Japanese American internment during World War Two and a great deal else as well. It is right to remind readers that America is a land formed partly by violent conquest and racial exploitation, and that theological rationalization for this has not been lacking from the Puritan settlers onward.
Bartolo-Abela is a trained social scientist who uses her expertise to good effect in showing the persistent social structures and psychological layers, some more subtle than others, of racism and its effects. The reader is not starved of statistics or academic studies. There is a focus on the increasing tendency, in the light of the 9/11 attacks and the “Islamic State” insurgency, to form sweeping judgments against Muslim Americans (or those who to White Americans might racially look Muslim). The widespread conspiracy theories concerning President Obama, not least that he was a secret Muslim, are held up as evidence of continuing racial resentment. Given the nature of many well-documented reactions (e.g., “Assassinate the N***** Ape!” quoted on p. 98), it is doubtful that he would have generated quite so much loathing among certain right-wingers if he had been White, or for that matter did not have Hussein as a middle name.
The rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right, with its widely documented racial antipathies, is viewed with grave discontent, especially given the weighty support it enjoys among White Christians. That racial tensions played a part in the 2016 Presidential election is unquestionable and it is clear that the legacy of the civil rights era is only a partial success. Bartolo-Abela cites the teachings of Catholic Social Doctrine as voiced by recent Popes and Sacred Scripture as flatly forbidding the contemptuous treatment of immigrants and stressing the need for hospitality to those different from oneself. Extreme nationalism that dismisses the basic human rights and dignity of people of differing racial or religious heritage is profoundly sinful, however much glossed with claims to protect national security or making America great again. God alone can take away the sins of the world and only if America turns to Him, not demagogues who distort His teachings, can it be saved.
Bartolo-Abela argues her case with panache, even if one might wish that she had written in more detail of what an acceptable political alternative to the alt-right should look like (is the only alternative to Trump, Hilary Clinton?). This is a passionate book unafraid of controversy. Not everyone will completely agree with it, but no one with a brain and a pulse shall be bored by it — Christopher Villiers, Catholic theologian, author of Sonnets From the Spirit and Petals of Vision.