When a vicious alcoholic dies in a suspicious fire, Rev. Olympia Brown and Fr. Jim Sawicki must prove his death was an accident and not murder—but evidence against the wife and daughter is mounting. The two clerics have little time to learn the truth and prevent the daughter he molested for years from ending her own life. Olympia and Jim confront unspeakable realities of incest, domestic violence and dark family secrets in a tangle of misconstrued Catholic dogma and the Irish culture of silence as they struggle to untangle a hideous web of shame, guilt, and broken lives.
Before the Fire
Terry O’Mara snapped back the handle of the aluminum ice tray, and dumped the contents into the sink. He dropped three cubes into a cut glass tumbler, shook them down, and opened the cupboard where he kept the whiskey. The ice crackled as the pungent amber liquor swirled around them. Terry took a long swallow and topped up the glass before going into the living room to read the Sunday paper, smoke a couple of cigarettes, and find a game to watch on television. It was early for him to be home. He usually went to the eleven o’clock mass, but too many of his friends went to that one and they might questions.
Much as he hated that stupid bitch Margaret, she was his wife, and she should be home making Easter dinner. When that nosy Polack priest at St. Bartholomew’s asked where she was, he said she’d gone to tend an ailing sister in upstate New York. But in truth, Terry had no idea where she was.
After the second drink, Terry was out of cigarettes. He stumbled on his way back out to the kitchen to get another pack and refresh his drink. This time he carried the bottle back with him and set it on the floor beside his chair.
By one in the afternoon Terry was sprawled and snoring in a drunken stupor—oblivious to the football players thundering across the TV screen and equally oblivious to the thin finger of smoke curling up from the edge of the carpet and snaking towards the pages of the newspaper scattered around his feet.