Nice Review of ST. MICHAEL POKER & DRINKING CLUB- Kirkus Reviews

A modern-day miracle throws a priest’s life into turmoil in this novel.
At the outset of Randle’s tale, Father Thomas Abernathy, pastor of Belle City’s St. Michael’s Catholic Church,
is having an unexpected personal crisis. The stray cat he recently befriended has been hit by a car and killed.
After burying the animal, Father Tom finds himself more acutely aware of his own solitude than he’s been in
years. His days, readers are told, “were filled with the innumerable chafing responsibilities of pastoring a
congregation.” The personal time that had been briefly enlivened by a cat now feels desolately empty.
Imagining a social club of fellow ecclesiastics who would “get together in their free time and play cards, have a
few drinks, share a few stories and relax,” he sets about assembling such a group. He recruits Lutheran pastor
Theo Swindberg, larger-than-life evangelical preacher Billy Crump, and charismatic Presbyterian minister
Donald Northrup, and thus is born the St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club. The men gather, talk, joke, and
learn about one another. Father Tom is in Theo’s confidence when the man learns that his wife, Naomi, has
cancer. In desperation, Theo asks Father Tom for a miracle, and suddenly a novel that had been about a
group of men awkwardly and tentatively forming late-in-life friendships takes a surprising dramatic turn.
Randle wisely spends generous amounts of time in alternating chapters taking his readers deep inside the
minds and backstories of his characters. As these men get to know one another, readers get to know them as
well. The author crafts these personal elaborations with care and considerable skill. The meetings are full of
lively talk on matters philosophical and theological, but the personal portraits of the main characters are the
highlights of the book. And the story’s climax involving Father Tom and the ailing Naomi is as soaringly
satisfying as it is out of left field.
A captivating and intensely readable tale about men of faith finding friendship and renewal. KIRKUS REVEIWS

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