Bishop Lynn Peterson

(creator: Marilyn Brown Oden)


Marilyn Brown Oden
Bishop Lynn Prejean Peterson had graduated from Harvard with a degree in theology, and had ended up as a Methodist Bishop. She is good at delivering public lectures but has less to say about her own inner feelings.

She had long been married to Dr Galen Petersen who was a history professor at Tulane University in New York. It was he who described Lynn as his "raven haired beauty with aquamarine eyes", although she now admitted to a gray streak in her hair. Together they had done "significant international work, especially in Russia" and at the start of the first book are about to set off "to the Balkans on a peace fact-finding mission." They had been in "some forty countries and on five continents" and "met with religious leaders from Judaism and Islam as well as Pope Benedict, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dalai Lama." Their 16 year old daughter had been killed in a car collision with a drunken driver three years before.

Lynn's own local work as a bishop gets hardly a mention. However, she has an "annoying innner voice", I.V, which she calls Ivy, that reminds her of her duty, making comments like "Stewing about permission is one way to continue to procrastinate, Lynn. You're good at that."

She loved New Orleans as " the city suited her". Her secret dream was to write a novel. She is correctly described as "a courageous woman, fearless and taking on the powerful on behalf of the powerless."

Marilyn Brown Oden is the award-winning author of eleven books, mostly religious non-fiction but including one other novel. She has a BA in the language arts, a MEd in counselling, and a MA in creative writing. She has been a first-grade teacher, a director of volunteers for a large urban school system, an adjunct professor of creative writing, and handled district liason for a US congressman. She has travelled extensively, making an official visit to refugee centers in the war zones of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the NATO bombing, and participating in an ecumenical fact-finding delegation in the Mideast. She is a United Methodist and married to Bishop William B. Oden. They have four children and four grandchildren. They live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Dead Saint (2011)
The Dead Saint turns out to be a dead footballer, a kicker for the New Orleans Saints, who is killed by a sniper's bullet in the presence of his good friend, Bishop Lynn Peterson. When a medal the player wore - a medal Lynn had promised to return to the man's family - disappears, Lynn is thrust into a fast-moving journey that takes her and her husband, via Vienna, the Balkans and Sarajevo, through four assassinations, an attempt on her life, conflicts with the mysterious and ancient society of St Sava, and a behind-the-scenes conspiracy that reaches all the way to the White House. It's not all that credible: at one stage both Lynn and her husband seem likely to get shot simultaneously by two different and quite independent assassins (one of whom continually chats to his "friend", his rifle), one taking aim at her and one at him - and there's even a subsequent attempt to murder the president.

The very short chapters start off by making this story very easy to read, but they end up by resulting in so much rapid jumping around that after a time it is easy to feel confused and/or frustrated, and the book starts to seem distinctly overlong. And some of the characters such as The Patriot, the long-standing very senior aide to the president who quite happily hires assassins to get rid of people who get in his way, lack conviction, as does the eventual revelation of who he really is. The president herself, one Helen Benedict, may have been "steering admirably through her bumpy first year, adroitly dodging stones cast by her opponents", but sounds a little too like wishful thinking on the part of the author. The task she gives Lynn of delivering a secret letter does not seem too likely either.

Lynn has the benefit (?) of frequently hearing warnings from Ivy, her inner voice, who tells her, "Stop it, Lynn. This is real life, not a Ludlum novel." Not surprisingly, the parts of the story that work best are those nearest to the author's own experience, as with her moving description of the war-torn Balkans, and of a bishop who "personifies the pompous, self aggrandizing stereotype of bishops" but for whom Lynn felt some sympathy as "he reminded her of a little three-year-old who tugs at a coat tail for attention and approval. As we all do at times, she admitted."

One of the characters, the fictional president of Macedonia who gets killed in a plane crash, is based on a real-life president who was assassinated in the same way, and whom the author had actually met. Perhaps this is why this episode is the most realistic and interesting in the book. The author really manages to involve us in his fate.

The book ends with a list of discussion questions, such as "Lynn admires and respects the Macedonian president. What did what did you think of him? How did you feel after the crash? How does the sudden death of a beloved leader affect us, both on the surface and deeper levels?" You can't help wondering if this is the sort of question that is really needed. Here is a suggestion for a more down-to-earth one: "Does this book stretch credibility too far? Which, if any, of the characters really come to life?"



The author has her own
website but you will need java to get beyond the first page.



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The Dead Saint cover
The cover is not very informative.
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