John Paul Carinci is the head of a successful insurance agency He is also the author of a couple of rather good mystery adventure novels. His latest effort involves a priest and the New York drug scene. The title of this novel is In Exchange Of Life. It was published by 1st Books Library. Father Joe is the priest for a parish on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. He has a rather laid back existence. That is until his niece dies of a drug overdose in New York. Then the wheels come off on Father Joe's life and he decides to do something about his niece's death.
Melissa Gramel was just an average teenaged girl in New York. Somehow she ended up with the wrong friends and they helped get her started taking drugs. Her father Jerry is Father Joe's brother. After Melissa's death her father and mother try to cope as much as possible. But Joe, having become disillusioned with both the church and society itself, wants to do something about what happened to Melissa.
Joe recruits his friend James who was in seminary with him to help out on his quest. Together the two men question Melissa's friends and classmates to determine who her dealer was. This search leads them to a nasty piece of work named Carlos. He is a punk who helped get Melissa hooked on drugs.
The more that Joe gets into things, the more mired his resolve becomes. Can he really get through the various layers of the drug trade to seek out the person ultimately responsible for Melissa's death?
Father Joe goes undercover and becomes involved with some very unsavory characters either directly involved or on the fringes of the drug trade.
The novel has been labeled as an action thriller but it has a lot of human drama in it as well. Father Joe is waging a war within himself about his faith and what his part is in the whole greater scheme of things.
Carinci puts a lot into this novel. There is the action and adventure of sniffing out the drug trade and doing the undercover bit to flush out the bad guys. The angst that Father Joe feels over the loss of Melissa and of the youth of our society is really moving. Can he find his way back into the fold without losing his life?