My Books

Along the River Road (2012)

In his second novel, Springfield author Isaac Morris tackles a subject that just won’t go away: clerical abuse of children. Morris, however, adds a fearful twist. What if one of the many abusers whose activities were covered up were, through some bureaucratic snafu, end up again in a diocese and perhaps even near a parish where they preyed so many years ago?

This is precisely the scenario in “Along the River Road,” published recently on Amazon.

Back is Sister Margaret Donovan, the protagonist from “The Absence of Goodness” (iUniverse, 2009). Some of the characters from “Absence” make a return, including Detective Bill Templeton, but don’t expect any heavy breathing in the back seat of a police cruiser. People who never read “Absence” will have no difficulty dealing with Margaret on her own terms in “River Road.” She is a different woman.

Her suspicions develop slowly when a new priest is assigned to her parish in Shelby County, until it becomes evident that there is something horribly wrong. The suicide of a young man and the subsequent disappearance of the parish priest force her to delve into a past that could eventually make her an accomplice after the fact. After all, she’s not a cop any more.

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The Absence of Goodness (iUniverse, 2009)

The Absence of Goodness

“The Absence of Goodness” is a fine adventure and mystery, sure to keep readers reading.”

John Taylor, Midwest Book Review

“The value of a crime novel being written by a Catholic is the theological basis with which crime and its consequences are seen. Many times throughout The Absence of Goodness the relationship between sin, crime, and its results is presented. But alongside of the darkness of crime hope in faith is also seen which is seldom present in today’s crime fiction. The detective turned nun, Margaret, makes a good main character and I would look forward to a series based on her cases.”

-Christy Isinger,   Read entire review

“…a top-notch mystery … extremely well written, with fully-drawn characters and a fascinating story … just the right mix of murder, suspense, and theology.”

Steve Thayer, New York Times Bestselling Author (Wolf Pass, The Leper )


When a sheriff’s deputy is brutally murdered, fellow deputy Margaret Donovan-his lover-questions every choice she has made as her life spins out of control. Struggling to find meaning amidst chaos, she returns to the faith in which she was raised. A friendship with a local nun motivates Margaret to hand in her badge and gun and devote her life to the convent.

Poised to make her final profession and take the veil, Margaret learns of the murder of two students. Her former boss asks her to help him to solve the killings. Margaret soon links the recent murders and a thirty-year-old cold-case slaying of another Saint Dominic’s student. She also realizes the first murder is entangled in a cover-up designed to protect some influential people.

Working to identify the killer, her burdens escalate. Another child is on the killer’s hit list, and she finds the detective with whom she’s working, Bill Templeton, falling in love with her. Realizing she makes bad choices more often then she would like, Margaret desperately attempts to solve the murders and reconcile her spiritual and secular lives. Only God knows where it will all end, but Margaret’s faith-and ultimately her love-will lead her to the truth.

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One thought on “My Books

  1. To one who reads, the day he realizes that books “written” by noted authors are actually the product of interns, researchers, advisers, editors, co-authors, contributors and more, to which the “author”, who pays for all these other people to do his work, merely appends his name, is a disappointing day.

    To one who reads it is an equally significant, and refreshing, day when he discovers a new author of talent; who wrote every word of his offering, who thanks his wife, children, mother, friends, neighbors and all who encouraged him, and acknowledges his friend at the local junior college who reviewed the manuscript, and the neighbor down the street who typed the final draft. Isaac Morris is an author of the latter, yet more authentic, class.

    I discovered Morris’s talent in The Absence of Goodness; his first novel.

    Given that I grew up in the geographical area in which Absence . . . is set; I had to set aside my biases toward the parochial world of my youth. By page 34 of Absence. . . Morris had led me fully into his version of the well-told tale of the evil that abides in the heart of man, no matter where he lives, and the choices each must make about how we do battle with that constant foe.

    In Absence . . ., Morris introduces us to Margaret Donovan and invites us to follow her as she chooses upon which course to make her fight – with a badge and a gun, or with a habit and prayer.
    In Along the River Road, Margaret Donovan continues the fight, but not in locales or means she could have foreseen.

    By its title, Along . . . calls to mind a journey, a scenic journey. In fact, Morris opens by declaring the natural majesty of his novel’s setting – rural southwest central Illinois at the juncture of two great rivers, and continuing under the bluffs along the greatest.

    The uncommon natural beauty of this small portion of a state landscape dominated by corn fields and a bankrupt political system, in a masterfully begrudging style crafted by Morris, surrenders forty years of unspeakable secrets, longing to be forgotten, and intended deception destined to be discovered. The secrets inescapably entail a grizzly reminder of the unintended consequences of other men’s sins, and, how time unsurprisingly reveals; whether it resolves or redeems. Along the way, along this river road and among the towns who abide in nature’s beauty, it is unfortunately the bodies that complete the tale and unite the survivors.

    In Along the River Road, Morris, in one small place, picks through the debris of the human catastrophe we have come to know over the past years as the Catholic Church Sex Scandal. Along the River Road compellingly tells about the consequences of sin, undeniable sin, even the Church’s sin, upon the lives of the citizens of Illinois’s nominee for Eden.

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