John Jordan is 27, working as a chaplain at a prison in Florida. He’s also recently divorced, a recovering alcoholic (the divorce is a result of his enabling wife not wanting him to go sober), and a former police officer in Atlanta who cracked a child murder case.
He’s arriving at work when he sees a typical morning scene. A prison guard is routinely stabbing at backs of trash, making sure no prisoner is using the daily trash pickup to attempt an escape. The routine is meant to be a deterrent to prisoners. This morning, however, as the guard stabs a trash bag, he hits something other than trash. As Jordan runs to assist, he’s hit by an eruption of blood from the trash bag. Inside the bag is an now-dead inmate, one who was HIV positive.
An official investigator is appointed – Jordan’s former father-in-law, who despises Jordan with a passion, not so much for the divorce from his daughter as professional jealousy and an inability to deal with his own alcoholism. The warden also asks Jordan to informally investigate, working with his former father-in-law. And what they begin to uncover is a sordid sex trafficking operation, run out of the prison and involving prisoners, correction officers, and outsiders.
Power in the Blood is the first of some 20 John Jordan mysteries by Michael Lister. Lister knows the ins and outs of prison ministry – he was a prison chaplain himself for almost a decade with the Florida Department of Corrections. In addition to the John Jordan series, Lister has published three novels in the Remington James series, five in the Merrick McKnight series, five in the Reggie Summers series, three in the Cataclysmos series, six in the Sam Michaels series, and three in the Daniel Davis series.
Power in the Blood, originally published in 1997, has been republished in a new edition. It’s fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and ringing with the authenticity of prison life.