The Purple Robe

The Purple Robe

The Purple Robe 0988353741
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Book Summary:
Rumors rising out of the Yucatan jungle report healings and miracles attributed to a holy relic. Father Pablo Diego Corellas discovers that even his own parishioners are making secret pilgrimages to the decrepit plantation where it is held. There, Doña Josefa, a mysterious woman who is either mystic or mad, possesses an artifact that she claims is a fragment of the robe worn by Christ at his trial. Guarded by armed Mayan farmers, she holds sway over an ever-growing number of pilgrims desperate for the healing power of the Purple Robe. Much against his own wishes, young Father Pablo is dispatched to the interior to investigate, while a police captain and a vacationing American couple make plans of their own for the robe. But when the relic is stolen, they soon discover that miracles have unforeseen consequences, and that no one is beyond their reach.
About the Author:
David Dean

David's short stories have appeared regularly in ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE, as well as a number of anthologies, since 1990. His stories have been nominated for the Shamus, Barry, and Derringer Awards and "Ibrahim's Eyes" won the EQMM Readers Award for 2007. His story, "Tomorrow's Dead", was a finalist for the Edgar for best short story of 2011. He is a retired Chief of Police in New Jersey and once served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Visit David Dean's Author Page

What inspired you to write this book?

The idea for The Purple Robe came to me over a decade ago. I was working with another writer at the time (he was coaching me in my writing skills) and we had met in a coffee shop. During the discussion he asked me if I had any ideas for a novel---most of my work had been in short fiction up to this point. After mulling his question over for a moment, I outlined the plot to The Purple Robe almost exactly as it came to be written. I hadn't known it was there until he asked. He looked at me and said something to the effect of, "That's a great idea---I'd love to read that book! How long have you been thinking it over? " I shook my head, and replied, "I'm not really sure---my brother and I spent some time in the Yucatan recently and I guess it inspired me. " That certainly explained the setting of the book, but I wasn't at all sure where the characters and plot came from; I had given the idea no conscious thought that I remembered. After our meeting, I jotted the outline down on a legal pad and didn't touch it for several years. It was only during the actual writing of it that it occurred to me that I might not be working entirely on my own. I like to believe that the Holy Spirit had a hand in the creation of the story, and I hope that that is true.

How much of the book is realistic?

As I mentioned, my older brother, Danny and I, took a trip to the Yucatan some years ago. We spent time in Merida and the coastal town of Progreso. Much of the story of The Purple Robe occurs in Progreso, though I've taken liberties with some of the geography. However, I trust that anyone who's been there, or who is lucky enough to live there, will recognize many of the locations. Beyond the locale, I'm afraid nearly everything else (characters, events, etc...) is the product of my imagination, though I will happily admit that the kind residents of that town certainly provided a spark for all that followed.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological) in bringing your book to life?

Research was made easier by the time I spent in the Yucatan. My local library, and the internet, proved useful for tidbits concerning the region, and insight into the broader spectrum of Mexican history which informs some of the action. It was the literary, and psychological, challenge that was most daunting in the beginning---how to write a novel featuring a different culture and peoples without being either condescending on the one hand, or fawning on the other. Several times I considered placing the story somewhere in the U.S. But each time I discarded the idea. Mexico is still a predominantly Catholic Christian nation, and one in which faith plays a large, and active, part in the daily lives of its people. If I had placed the story in the U.S. the plot would have been forced by that to include a lot of distracting elements that I didn't want to dominate the story. The characters of James and Brenda Arbor (vacationing Americans) provide the worldliness and cynicism that I needed for the The Purple Robe, but not so much as to overwhelm it, which would've been difficult to accomplish, sadly, had I set it in the States where talk of miracles is generally greeted with derision. No, it had to be Mexico, the nation where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego at Guadalupe. I needed a locale where the possibility of such things would not be instantly decried as medieval nonsense, but be considered with anticipation and joy; which is not to say that I think of Mexicans as simple and unquestioning zealots, but rather that their great faith allows them to keep a truly open mind when it comes to matters of science and God. I think that is equally true of most Catholic believers, though here in the U.S. we lack the comfort of numbers in which to express it. It was this shared Catholic faith that provided me the answer to my concerns about characterization: instead of allowing the differences of history and culture to separate me from the people I was writing about, I had our mutual faith and shared Catholic history to inform me. Once I realized this, I believed that I could do them justice and never looked back. I hope that this is true, and pray that no one will be ill-served by my words.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

Where, oh where, shall I begin? My favorite authors run the gamut, I think. I have been influenced by the works of Joseph Conrad, H.H. Munro, Flannery O'Connor, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Graham Greene, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Edgar Allan Poe, Joyce Carol Oates, Evelyn Waugh, and Ambrose Bierce, to name just a few.

What do you think makes a good story?

Anything that touches on the human condition in a compassionate way has merit in my mind. Of course the writing needs to be good and the characters believable. This doesn't mean it has to be a soft piece, far from it, but those works that stand the test of time contain that spark of humanity within them. Some of the cruelest stories I've ever read (many of O'Connor's works would fit this category) illumine man's struggle to rise above his own selfish, violent behavior, in search of the divine within, or outside of, himself. Others accomplish the same goal relying more on a gentle humor, and tolerance, of man's frailties and self-absorption. The Purple Robe contains elements of both, I hope. The reader will be the judge of that.

The Purple Robe
5 Stars Well Written
on May 17, 2015
A well written story that leaves you wishing to know more about the lives of the characters and what happens in their futures. I especially grew to love the "of this world" behaviors of the " Little Father". The book did start off a bit slow but in the end I found that to be quite necessary for character development. David Dean's works show a great love of language. I am ready to begin his next work, Starvation Cay.
The Purple Robe
5 Stars Enjoyable Read
on August 5, 2015
This is the story of a young insecure priest who borders on incompetence when he is suddenly thrown into the role of sole parish priest. He is sent to investigate rumors of a holy relic which is curing the sick and performing moracles. It is well written, fast paced, well developed characters and believable plot. It is an enjoyable read.
The Purple Robe
5 Stars The purple robe
on November 7, 2014
This is a well written book, The author makes you feel as if you are in the dusty country side around Pregreso. The story line keeps you interested until the last page and makes you want to read the next book by David Dean as soon as it is published.
The Purple Robe
on June 2, 2015
Terrific story line. Excellent character development; incorporates passion, humor, drama, mystery. Easy reading - can't put it down. Great ending. I will definitely search out other books by this author.
The Purple Robe
on January 26, 2015
THE PURPLE ROBE might be described as the story of a religious relic (a fragment of the robe Christ wore at his trial) and Father Pablo (a young priest who is at times incompetent and at all times, insecure). But it’s far more than the tale of the theft of that artifact, which is credited with healings and miracles, and the priest, police captain, guerillas and American couple who become involved. Author David Dean takes his readers into Mexico for a fast-paced, exciting thriller, but along the way, he reveals mankind’s strengths as well as the foibles of humanity when characters descend into violence, deception, and betrayal. Is the relic authentic or a hoax? How many will die because of it? A reader doesn't have to be Catholic, nor even Christian, to stay glued to this book until the last page.
The Purple Robe
5 Stars A great read from a great author!
on January 1, 2015
The newest novel by David Dean is quite a departure from his previous book, The Thirteenth Child. The Purple Robe is the story of a reluctant priest in Mexico whose flock is straying from the Church to a strange place of healing. He attributes it to his lack of confidence in his own prowess at the pulpit. The story is not overly religious nor is it blasphemous. No matter your religion, you can read this book with a clear conscience. It mixes modern skepticism, ancient Mayan magic and timeless Catholicism to weave a first-rate tale that enthralls the reader and makes them think. It has an air of mystery and a very relatable main character, for who among us has not doubted themselves and their life choices? There are also great subplots, like the police chief and the American tourists, and the stories of the parishioners in Father Pablo's church. Being set in Mexico also gives out a certain appeal and sense of authenticity, as opposed to it being set in America or even Europe. There is a great respect for Catholicism in Mexico not found anywhere else, all while Mexico deals with severe violence on a daily basis (as mentioned in the book). Mr. Dean took a risk writing this and the risk paid off. This is a great book!