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gateEnter the Narrow Gate tell the story of a teenage girl who has vanished in Santa Fe. Nearby, in the Trappist monastery of St. Mary of the Snows, a beautiful young nun is stabbed to death. Father Nicholas Fortis is on sabbatical at St. Mary’s, and when Lieutenant Christopher Worthy of the Detroit Police Department is flown in to help find the missing teenager, the Orthodox monk asks his friend to delve into the nun’s murder as well. The two men make a perfect team: the monk’s gregarious manner opens hearts and the detective’s keen intuition infiltrates psyches. The Book of Matthew refers to the “narrow gate” that leads to heaven. Each of the key players in these two cases was rattling heaven’s gate in a frantic and even dangerous quest for salvation. Lieutenant Sera Lacey of the Santa Fe Police, with her captivating looks and insight into the Native Americans and cultures of the Southwest, proves both a boon and a distraction for Worthy. As Father Fortis navigates the social hierarchy of the monks of St. Mary’s, he begins to fear their secret agendas. Bowing to the pressure to solve both cases, the investigators let the clues lead them in opposite directions. At the end of one of those paths, Death awaits. Book one in a new detective series featuring Christopher Worthy and Father Fortis.

More About the Book: Enter the Narrow Gate: A Christopher Worthy/Father Fortis Mystery (Coffeetown Press, November 2016) is the first book in a new series. This is the first novel by David Carlson, a professor of religious studies at Franklin College in Indiana. It is available as a paperback and e-book. The book won an Independent Publishers bronze medal for outstanding regional fiction.

My thoughts: Enter the Narrow Gate is the first book in a possible series but it doesn’t read that way. Author David Carlson makes you feel as if the two “investigators” Lt. Worthy and Father Fortis have a rich history — so much so that I wondered if I had jumped into the middle of a series (something I hate to do). This is an interesting take on the mystery genre because not because there are two detectives — there are plenty of stories with two detective a la Holmes and Watson — but because these detectives are coming at the crime from two totally different worlds. While Lt. Worthy is your average cop, Fr. Fortis is a member of the religious world. This mystery has a religious aspect to it as well as details unique to the Southwest. This book keeps you guessing. Is there a crime? Is it a murder? Are the nun’s murder and the college student’s disappearance related? Is the troubled college student a victim or a predator? All these questions lead to a surprising twist at the end. These two investigators seem so natural together I’d love to see them tackle another mystery