Father David Sheridan

(creator: David J Miller)


Hell's Kitchen cover
Father David Sheridan (known throughout as Sheri "because he blushed so easily") is a Roman Catholic priest who had spent the last ten years as a hospital chaplain. Then his old friend, Bishop O'Daly, suddenly sends him off on a new mission: to discover the real reason for an ill old priest's distress. Sheri had originally trained as a doctor and had then given this up to enter a seminary, after which he had become a parish priest (when he found he "found satisfaction in helping others") before taking up his hospital work. We are told that he had spent two and a half years writing The Forensic Study of Exorcisms which is still incomplete. It is this interest in exorcism that seems to be the reason why the bishop may have chosen him for his new task. He still drives the 1964 Chevy Camero, the same car he had prized for over 30 years, and had at one time even worked as a professional truck driver. He is described as tall and slender with green eyes.

David J Miller (dates?) explains that he "received his secondary education from Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, Vermont and has been Jeffersonian educated at the master's level." He became an expert in the field of Aromatic Hydrocarbons and has lectured and written on this subject. According to the blurb, he has also "preformed (sic) the duties of evaluator and lecturer at the university level."

Hell's Kitchen (From where everyone is served) (2005)
Hell's Kitchen (From where everyone is served) is a revised version of a previous book with the even more cumbersome title of A Priest and His Spirits Down Under. The plot is a simple one: Father David Sullivan (Sheri) is sent off to remote Cedar Lodge to join the Native American Alex Hunter in looking after old Father Burtram Burns who has been ill for decades and who screams in the night ("the sounds were that of a spirit in torment"). Sheri recognizes Burt's withdrawn behavior "as indicative of an anxiety disorder". As his task is to make sure that Burt (also rather confusingly called both Burtram and Burns) was "comfortable in body and spirit", he realises he must do some
detective work. So he sets about uncovering the cause of Burt's illness by investigating his medical records and by pursuing the trail to Burt's previous parish that he is amazed to find now lies razed to the ground and deserted.

The author has a stilted, peculiar style of his own which makes some passages quite difficult to understand: "As some people dream of far off vacations Sheri is compensated by cataloged memories of former culinary delights, always giving him hope for another, and may explain the thirty pounds he's lost." Later on we are told: "To make matters worse, his peers all of which are gone, leaving Sheri at a proverbial dead end." He also writes about "an expanded index with many classical references, all of which by design presents (sic) an extremely sound hypothesis."I could give innumerable other examples, as grammar is not the author's strong point. What he has got, though, is a real understanding of how chemicals can pollute the atmosphere, and this is the book's one strength.

Sheri himself seems distinctly short of any very profound religious understanding (he does not seem to get much further than remembering his old philosophy tutor's advice, "When in doubt, don't deal God out"), and, even when trying to help people, has difficulty in communicating clearly, as when a nurse explains to him, "I'm on break, and was wondering if you might help me figure out why I'm so unhappy?"
Sheri accepts the challenge saying, "Certainly, if I can."
The nurse appears a little distraught as she continues, "I've been feeling emotionally numb these days and was hoping you might understand what I'm going through."
Sheri takes a minute and says, "It could be the contentment you have been seeking for your family is too much, and you haven't been paying enough attention to yourself."
Mary Ann is in awe as she replies, "You know there maybe (sic) something to that I've been so wrapped up with everyone else I've neglected my own needs, which makes me less effective in other areas, thanks Father."

It all seems much too glib, as is his advice to an unhappy alcohlic: "Knowing alcoholism as an insidious disease Sheri counsels William Case to seek out professional guidance, and then encourages William to telephone him if he ever needed a sounding board. They exchange telephone numbers, whereby allowing each to go there (sic) separate ways." The use of the present tense throughout adds to the general feeling of clumsiness.

Sheri himself emerges as quite a forceful character who takes it upon himself to get Burt discharged from a hospital where "They've got him in a locked room and probably heavily sedated, all of which means one thing they're managing the situation and not treating it!". And he does not hesitate to tell the Bishop, "I'm calling the shots." When he needs an expert to tell him the significance of some aerial photographs, it turns out that the Bishop, before he had entered the seminary, had conveniently been "an intelligence officer for the military with his speciality being in aerial reconnaissance."

It's an extraordinary book - but for all the wrong reasons. If ever an author needed advice and help before publication ....


There is nothing about the author on the web except for a few references to his work on hydrocarbons.



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The book was published by Airleaf com, a much criticised vanity publisher which since seems to have gone out of business, although the book is still available from Amazon.
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