Cathedral Street

Rated 5.00/5 based on 2 reviews
No one cries when the body of an old man is laid to rest in south Baltimore. His three sons go on with their separate lives, hardly grieving their dead father. But new events stir up dark secrets in a family torn apart by greed, cruelty, and revenge.
The Miller brothers soon become entangled in a web of deceit, revenge, and a horrific crime. More

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Words: 97,730
Language: English
ISBN: 9781458069733
About LJ Hippler

L. J. Hippler lived, worked and played in Baltimore for several decades. He has degrees in Economics and Finance from UMBC and the University of Baltimore. Currently, he makes his home in Richland, Washington. But, Charm City will always be a huge part of who he is.

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Review by: Andrea Green on Feb. 17, 2012 :
L.J. Hippler’s stunningly well-written debut novel “Cathedral Street” follows the dramatic saga of the Miller family from 1959 to 1999.

Set in a bleak and shuttered Baltimore, the Miller household is held captive by a viciously cruel patriarch, the boys’ father Jarvis Miller. Jarvis casts himself as the hero of his own delusional play -- crushed down at every turn, object of personal vendettas and denied his richly deserved rewards by everyone around him, including his wife and small sons. Determined to punish his family for their imagined slights again him, the petulant Jarvis turns his household into a war zone, campaigning to drive a wedge between his useless sons and their loving, protective mother, Greta. Beatific Greta bends but refuses to break under the strain of her husband, but wheels have already been set in motion, and as one black night the last light of hope is extinguished from the household, the Miller family earns its first, dark secret.

Unable to recognize that their best chance to break free of their father’s toxic influence is to band together and support each other, instead the brothers find their fraternal bonds snapped and fraying as each son tries to escape his horrible past by abandoning all those with communal ties to it. As each brother stumbles darkly along his unique path, the shadow of their father’s hate and cruelty persistently threatens to seep into their lives and choke out their dreams. But the warmth and comfort of their mother’s love has not abandoned them, either, as the boys (now young men) refuse to perpetuate the sins their father heaped upon them and instead strive to create their own brave new worlds.

The eldest brother, Jerry, finds his escape when he is entrusted with the dreams of a classmate who can no longer pursue his sworn path to the priesthood. Jerry agrees to devote his life to the church in this boy’s stead, and finds himself, fresh out of seminary school, thrown into in the bloody battlefields of Vietnam. Here he meets fellow chaplain Rabbi Larry Adelson, and this vital and nourishing friendship offers Jerry a source of solace throughout his life.

Middle brother Buddy chooses industry over faith. Determined to show mastery over his squalid beginnings, Buddy declares his independence through hard work and seeks financial security to overcome his dysfunctional past. He seeks to solidify his happiness with the love of a good woman, but his marriage to the beautiful, but ultimately unsuitable, college sweetheart Brena puts his entire intended future in jeopardy. Adrift and directionless, his dreams begin to falter, until finally, in one terrifying moment, Buddy makes a desperate decision which propels him into the secure lifestyle of wealth by a dreadful means. From that moment on, Buddy’s dark secret places his family at risk and threatens to take away that which he holds dear above all else.

Tommy, the youngest brother, sees his brother Buddy remake himself in the image of the modern breadwinner and seeks out employment himself. But the daily toil is hardly satisfactory for young Tommy, who longs not just for financial means but for personal recognition and the validation of those around him. Stumbling upon a local underground boxing culture, Tommy discovers his true self in the roar of the crowd and the rush of a good fight. Raised to new heights, Tommy forgets that those who climb too far too fast may be in for a swift fall.

Betrayal, darkness, and cruelty swarm around the stormy lives of the Miller brother, but there is escape from Jarvis Miller’s vile legacy in the presence of Buddy’s only daughter Melissa, who begins to question the family’s policy of separation and secrecy. Her quest to discover the Miller family’s past may delve up secrets hoped forgotten forever and bring the darkest corners of that history starkly into the light.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Janine McCaw on May 09, 2011 :
I had read the paperback of this book.

It's hard to tell the saints from the sinners in life. L. J. Hippler's debut tale about the Miller brothers of south Baltimore makes this clear from the start. The different paths Tommy, Buddy and Father Jerry take in life to escape their tragic youth, are only a bad decision away from being similar. The finely woven plot keeps the reader turning the pages quickly. Cathedral Street is a tale of greed and revenge that should not be missed.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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