This is the story of an unnamed priest. He is a tortured soul only referred to as the “whisky priest.” We learn about why he is called such as he is reflecting:
He was a bad priest, he knew it. They had a word for his kind – a whisky priest, but every failure dropped out of sight and mind: somewhere they accumulated in secret – the rubble of his failures.
The reader meets the whisky priest as he is thinking about boarding a boat to get the heck out of town. You can’t blame him, after all, because the Mexican authorities want him dead for the simple fact that he is the last priest in the state (probably Tabasco) still practicing Catholicism. In fact, the only person wanted as badly as the whisky priest is a murderer and thief from the United States that’s loose in the state. The priest is such a horrible criminal in the minds of the Mexican authorities that a particularly zealous lieutenant is able to convince his boss that he should be allowed to take one innocent person hostage from all of the surrounding villages until someone turns the priest in.
The reader follows the priest as he attempts to evade the aforementioned lieutenant. He hops from town to town, always one step ahead of the lieutenant. Along the way he meets a cast of characters, of which some show him kindness, some treachery, and some indifference. These rich characters complement the harrowing pursuit scenes to weave a gripping story. But it’s much more than that. Underlying it all is the inner struggle of a priest who has to deal with his demons in a time when he must show great courage and fortitude. He is on the run and constantly forced to choose between saving himself or helping others. The tragedy and triumph that ensue are the direct results of his choices.
It was a fast and pleasurable read.