Unrest in Eden

Written by Florence Byham Weinberg
Review by Elena Maria Vidal

Unrest in Eden is the fourth novel in a series about the adventures of Father Ignaz Pfefferkorn, a character based upon a real-life 18th-century Jesuit missionary, musician, and scholar, who in Weinberg’s stories is a sleuth as well. Forced to leave his beloved mission in Mexico, Father Ignaz survives both the disbanding of his order as well as imprisonment and torture in a Spanish prison. Released through the intervention of the Austrian imperial family, Father Ignaz begins the long trek across Europe to his hometown in Germany, where he has long dreamed of being reunited with his sister Isabella.

In spite of his precarious health and near starvation, he is able to complete his journey, thanks to the kindness of such persons as Eveline the innkeeper in Strasburg. While the priest is overjoyed to find his sister and her family thriving and happy to see him, he soon discovers that the village he has idealized is torn with strife. In an effort to save another priest who has been unjustly accused, Father Ignaz takes up a hunt for a murderer, putting his own life and reputation at risk.

Combining the elements of a thriller and a mystery, Unrest in Eden is an outstanding work of historical fiction for the flawless research as reflected in the detailed authenticity of the settings and descriptions. As Father Ignaz struggles with those who oppose him, he also struggles with himself as a man, who often finds the loneliness of his calling a heavy cross. My only complaint is that at the end Father Ignaz acts in a way that is completely out of character, going against everything he has believed in and suffered for, which weakened the integrity of the novel for me. Nevertheless, it is a book to be enjoyed by anyone who relishes well-written historical novels.