I am a big fan of the comic novel. Good comic novels are hard to come by, so imagine my delight to discover The Exorcism of Little Billy Wagner. It's more the story of church politics than of an exorcism, but both topics can make for rich fodder for good comedy, and this novels delivers happy laughs from both.
Father Leo Mackenzie has been assigned to a small parish in south St. Louis, Missouri, instead of the posting in South America (specifically Bolivia, where he had previously got to spend some time getting to know the local parishioners and their dreams of a llama farm to help them produce warm, soft llama wool sweaters) he had longed for. Still, he could help those in St. Louis, as there are plenty of ways to do the Lord's work wherever you are. And it's pretty typical work for a priest--writing homilies, taking confessions, teaching classes, and dealing with his housemate, Monsignor Krebs, a former Special Forces Officer, and their housekeeper Sheree, whose cookies are so teeth-shattering they could be used as a weapon.
And then he gets called in to talk to Mary Wagner about her son, the potentially demon-possessed 12-year-old Little Billy Wagner. Father Leo is asked to evaluate him for the Archbishop, and things seem to take off from there. With the help of a Jesuit psychiatrist, a bishop, a couple of strong deacons, and Monsignor Krebs, the team goes in for the exorcism, and then all hell breaks loose.
Fans of horror will probably not be impressed with this novel, but fans of parody and irony will be thrilled. Smart and clever, this story brings out all the best and worst of the Catholic Church, its politics, its people, and its desire to help people, and it's truly a joy to read.
Ebook provided by the author via @BookTasters on Twitter.