In Extremis by V.V. Drummond - Jason Oosterhuis, self-described wife beater, has just arrived in Toronto after being released from prison for good behaviour having served 39 months of a 6 year sentence. While contemplating the women he might terrorize now that he is free a hired killer shoots him in the shower.
Sharyn Barrington, recently turned 42, is drawing away from the Catholic faith. She is questioning the Church as the means to salvation. Her husband, Carl, a lawyer and accountant, a staunch conservative Catholic, is upset. Their marriage is struggling. The relationship has not been aided by her recent opening of a lingerie shop called Booty’s.
Her provocative older sister, Jenna, is having an affair. Sharyn thinks of adultery as a sin. Jenna is unconcerned. There is no discussion of the commitment to faithfulness in the vows of marriage.
Sharon, deeply unhappy, has drifted into drinking daily screwdrivers referring to them as V and Oh! What started as the occasional screwdriver now includes taking a thermos full of screwdrivers to the store on week days and drinking at home through the weekends.
Sharyn reflects on the morality of having an affair with a teenage friend of her son. Her focus is upon her consequences. Desire triumphs and, as inevitable, Sharyn has pangs of conscience over the affair.
Morgan “Morg” M. Cathcart, QC, LLB and widowed a few years mourns Mr. Justice Samuel Keane Leishman’s death. The retired judge at 83 collapsed at Mass. He converted late in life from Judaism to Catholicism.
There is a deft observation on why a man, born and raised a Jew and with two Jewish marriages, converted to Catholicism:
…. He’d said there was less moral relativism in Catholicism than Judaism. “ I like lots of shalts and shalt nots.” Sam had no patience with shades of gray.
The seal of the confessional is considered by the judge’s troubled pastor:
Would he serve God best by being a loyal priest and maintaining the seal of the confessional? Or would the secret he took to his grave - unspecified crimes, some of them perhaps horrible - condone mortal sin and violate his sense of doing good for the greatest number? And what was God’s position on these questions? To serve a greater good, could He condone someone being a bad priest?
The priest’s turmoil over what the judge has told him felt out of place for every man who becomes a Catholic priest has had ample time to consider the issue in the seminary and, if unable to accept the seal is absolute, not to become a priest.
Morgan is a bitter and vengeful man over a teenager escaping responsibility for killing his wife in a hit and run. He sees no irony between his anger over defence lawyers zealously representing criminal defendants and his satisfaction with his own legal work. Morgan, a tax lawyer, seeks to use every legal argument and strategy to minimize the taxes of his clients.
The old judge had been known for his stern punishments of the convicted. Morgan is ready to carry on Sam’s legacy.
(My next post will contain the rest of my review.)