Michael Hanlon and the Belgian Sanction

(Book Three of the Saints and Demons trilogy)

In the fall of 1950 Michael and Susan Hanlon are told by Saint Sophia they are to leave Mount Peyton within the hour. This is sad news for Michael’s closest friend, Charlie Goodyear, still heartbroken over the loss of his saintly girlfriend, Faith Romanga. Once aboard their single diesel unit, the young couple are greeted by a peculiar character named John Ritter, who informs Michael and Susan they were chosen to protect six Catholic nuns who manage a school deep in the heart of the Belgian Congo. The sisters have run into serious trouble and need immediate help. But there is more: The Hanlons are also expected to conduct a biblical-style massacre of the Dangelle militia, a vicious para-military group acting under orders from Belgian King Leopold III. Their leader, Colonel Nganda, is tasked with ensuring Leopold’s slave labor maintains a high level of production. Rape, torture, removal of limbs, and death are common penalties inflicted on those natives who do not measure up to their work quota. The stunned couple later falls into a deep sleep only to awaken on a different train, this one en route to Leopoldville on the Congo River. Michael is shocked; Susan in outraged. Having just returned from a harrowing experience in Africa, she has no wish to go back.

Once Multus, hell’s upstart leader, is told the Hanlons are on the move, he orders Prefect Himmler to keep close watch on the two troublemakers and to use any opportunity to execute them. This is not a simple process, because approval to conduct human annihilation has just been revoked. Himmler suggests the involvement of two of his former Gestapo officials: Major Von Stoner, recently executed by Michael Hanlon; and Colonel Hoffman, shot dead by Edith Goodyear, Charlie’s WWII heroine mother. Multus is in full agreement.

And so it begins. The Hanlons’ journey is fraught with danger, starting out with a violent rape scene on the train, which is followed by a series of near-death experiences aboard the Maria Korval as it winds its way up the mighty Congo River toward the school site. Meanwhile, with Von Stoner hard at work chasing down the Hanlons, Herr Hoffman is making life miserable for the Goodyear family. Charlie’s new girlfriend is kidnapped, the family pets are killed, and several deadly attacks are launched against Charlie. Back aboard ship, a desperate set of circumstances prompts John Ritter to join in the defense of the Maria Korval when the steamer comes under attack by the Belgian police. Unfortunately, his rash decision serves to reverse the no-kill protocol, which now allows Multus to renew hell’s murderous activities.

John Ritter is recalled and replaced by Paddy Ryan, previously executed by Maloch in the demon’s desperate attempt to identify Sister Catherine, now Susan Hanlon, a time traveller sent to Mount Peyton to keep her safe. Paddy doesn’t have Ritter’s experience in dealing with Africa’s tribal complexities and must play it by ear as he sets up a defense intended to keep Michael and Susan safe. But once Prefect Himmler throws his mighty Einsatzgruppen into the mix, the danger to Michael and Susan becomes overwhelming. The Sisters of Mercy lose their school, members of their staff are shot dead and the children are scattered. Their only hope of survival depends upon a young Canadian couple acting on behalf of the Left Hand of God.