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Bleeder: A Mystery Paperback – August 15, 2009

27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Smart, frequently witty, and beautifully researched (the author's paraphrasing of Aristotle's logic is an intellectual delight), it is refreshing to read a book where faith is neither demanded, nor held up to ridicule."
--Mystery Scene

"A delightful page-turner full of twists and appealing characters to make it a complete mystery thriller. Enthralling!"

"Sharp imagery, gripping plot, vivid characters, amazing climax and satisfying conclusion. Exciting and thought-provoking!" --St. Anthony Messenger

"A complex plot, multi-issue characters and an amazing climax. Wonderful!" --The Catholic Company

"I was absolutely floored! Go out and buy this book!"
--Family and Faith


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Chisel and Cross Books from Sophia Institute Press (August 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933184566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933184562
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, John Desjarlais teaches creative writing and American Literature at Kishwaukee College in northern Illinois. His first novel, The Throne of Tara (Crossway 1990, 2000), was a Christianity Today Readers Choice Award nominee, and his medieval thriller, Relics (Thomas Nelson 1993, 2009) was a Doubleday Book Club Selection. Bleeder, Viper, and Specter (Chesterton Press 2009, 2011, 2015) constitute the "Higher Mysteries" series. His work has appeared in periodicals such as LA Noir, The Critic, Conclave, Apocalypse, Dappled Things, The Karitos Review and The Rockford Review. He took Honorable Mention in the 1997 Writers Digest Competition (essay) and was nominated for the 2013 Catholic Arts and Letters Award. He holds an MA in Media from Columbia University and an MA in Writing from Illinois State University. A member of The Catholic Writers Guild and Mystery Writers of America, he is listed in Who's Who in Entertainment and Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa M. Hendey VINE VOICE on September 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading John Desjarlais' fascinating work of fiction, Bleeder. From the initial pages of the book through it's great conclusion, this novel was action packed and quite thought provoking. The main character, Reed Stubblefield, finds himself in a small town looking to heal from his physical and emotional wounds. He strikes up a begrudging friendship with Father Ray, a priest who is widely believed to be a stigmatic and a miracle healer. When Father Ray dies suddenly during the Good Friday service, Reed finds himself accused of the murder of this beloved priest.

This book is incredibly well written, and enhanced by the inclusion of quotations and teachings of Aristotle - these fit into the story since Reed is a professor, on sabbatical, looking to write about Aristotle. The novel's Catholic setting is never heavy handed or preachy, but rather contributes to the richness of the story told and the mystery that unfolds. Reed, a skeptic who finds himself surrounded by believers, must question some of his long held beliefs and philosophies.

I loved Bleeder and raced to the end to learn "whodunnit". At this point, I will likely go back and reread the book again to enjoy Mr. Desjarlais' stunning writing and the intricacy with which he creates and shares the lives of his characters.

Strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great mystery!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Webster, award-winning author VINE VOICE on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reed Stubblefield--a college professor on sabatical--is a wounded man...both physically by a student's random shot and emotionally by his wife's recent death. He retreats to his brother's remote cabin in the small town of River Falls, Ill. in hopes of writing a book on Aristotle. It's the middle of March and Reed expects the campsite to be empty; but he's both disappointed and aggravated when he finds that the campsite and town are overflowing with throngs of believers--sick pilgrims seeking a cure from "the stigmatist" priest. Not only that, but Reed suspects that his brother deliberately set him up for an encounter with "Fr. Ray" in the hopes that it would lead to his physical and spiritual healing.

Reed's skepticism and Aristotelian logic are an offset to the sometimes blind devotion of the believers. His natural curiosity and desire to find logical explanations are what leads him into becoming more embroiled in the frenzy going on around him. But when Fr. Ray dies suddenly in the middle of a church service, Reed's skepticism and unique physical ailments place him in the position of being a prime suspect in the priest's murder. Now he must rely on his intellect and training to find the real killer.

BLEEDER was an exciting read from the first page to its satisfying resolution. I found myself turning the pages quickly to see what would happen next. The story builds in a crescendo like a symphony--beginning with the muted strings of questions unanswered to the crashing cymbals of its exciting conclusion. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Hoecherl on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully crafted mystery with several unexpected plot twists just when you think you've got things all figured out. The characters are engaging, to the point where I wanted the story to continue after I got to the end of the book. The language used is beautifully descriptive and it's not at all gory as you might expect from the title. Being from a small town in Northern Illinois and teaching at a community college, I also appreciated the references to local geographical features as well as academic life. The first part does a very nice job setting the stage for the mystery; once the main event occurred, I was hooked into the mystery and had a hard time putting it down. I recommend it highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie D. VINE VOICE on April 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reed Stubblefield is on his way to his brother's cabin in a small Illinois town. He needs time to recuperate from a debilitating injury, he is traumatized by his wife's recent death, and he is writing a book. A little peace and quiet are just what the doctor ordered, right?


Of course, Reed is plunged almost immediately into local controversies. Is the local priest a stigmatic? Can he heal with a touch? Why does a disconnected phone ring? And who is on the other end? Is the local Hispanic community up to no good? When the priest is murdered and Reed is the prime suspect, he must look for answers to these questions and more to find the real murderer.

Bleeder by John J. Desjarlais grabbed me by the throat and I read it in two days.

I liked Reed's skepticism about healing powers and his ambivalence toward religion in general. I also liked his conversations with priests, especially Monsignor DeMarco, who proved reasonable and understanding of Reed's opinions, but who still explained and defended the Catholic faith ... without being defensive.

I liked the way that the varying viewpoints were shown about the recently swelling illegal Hispanic population. Not everyone had a good point, but they all had a point to make. Just as in real life, where sometimes you can't argue with the local bigot down the road as much as you would like to because ... darn it ... there is a kernel of truth at the bottom of their reasoning.

I liked the way that the author skillfully would segue from one scene to another, often via dreams, and leave me thinking we were heading in one direction only to have me realize I was completely wrong a few sentences later.
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