Published: April 3, 2020

A Francesca Fruscella Mystery

Masses and Motets

About the bookMasses and Motets is a tale composed of four basic interwoven threads, corresponding to the four-part choral writing of Pierre de la Rue’s service music. The first thread comes from the diaries of a recently murdered priest, Father Andrea Vidal, former secretary to the notorious Father Marcial Maciel. The second thread is the mystery story, a police procedural focusing on the efforts of Denver detective Francesca Fruscella to solve the murder and retrieve Vidal’s diary. The third strand is the story of Father Signelli, a priest sent from the Vatican to “fix” the murder. And the fourth strand explores the best and worst of Catholic culture: art and music created by Catholic artists and sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Vidal’s narrative is the story of a priest who systematically, sincerely, and hopefully tries to destroy his very self through sex, drinking, and drugs in order to get closer to God. Fruscella’s story is that of a middle-aged, female detective trying to solve a ghastly murder while constantly battling the sexism of the Catholic Church. Signelli’s tale is that of an older career priest who, in doing the bidding of his superiors to fix problems that threaten the order of the Church, has perhaps compromised his own soul. By no means a simple narrative of wicked priests, this is a story of men who desperately want to believe, as well as a story of what this belief might shelter and cost.

About the author: Jeffrey DeShell is the author of four novels: Peter: An (A)Historical Romance (Starcherone 2006), The Trouble with Being Born (FC2 2008), S & M and In Heaven Everything is Fine (FC2) and a critical book, The Peculiarity of Literature: An Allegorical Approach to Poe’s Fiction. He has co-edited two collections of fiction by American women, Chick-Lit I: Postfeminist Fiction and Chick-Lit II: No Chick Vics (FC2), and was a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Budapest, Hungary, 1999-2000. He has taught in Northern Cyprus, the American Midwest and was on the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. He is currently an associate professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


“Readers will want to see more of the intriguing Francesca. Those interested in issues facing today's Catholic Church will best appreciate this one.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Jeffrey DeShell writes the only detective novels I want to read. Masses and Motets tore the top of my head off; I loved every word.”
—Benjamin Whitmer, author of Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers and Cry Father: A Novel

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