Father McClellan is as artfully drawn and compelling in his hard-won spiritual wisdom works. He uses his Marine toughness, programming skills, and gritty faith to sort out potential motivations and methods to solve the murder of an undercover priest, Father Tanglao. An engineer himself, Patenaude describes all the technological details, societal tensions, and moral ambiguities of New Athens with confidence and finesse. The most compelling passages, though, are the human ones, where McClellan and other characters grapple with their troubled pasts and future options, and the free will choices before them.