PAUL A. BARRA

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Paul A. Barra is an award-winning reporter and teacher, decorated military veteran and former diocesan staff writer, restaurant manager, bartender, health inspector, clam digger, roofer and director of religious education for a Charleston parish. He and his wife Joan have 8 children. They live with their alpacas and chickens in Reidville, in South Carolina’s Spartanburg County.


 

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Coming Soon from Black Opal Books...

Barra has just entered into a contract with Black Opal Books to publish his new novel, “Cotton and Bones,” a 90,000-word historical mystery that tears away the veil of secrecy that covers slave owning by antebellum Catholics in the South -- including the notorious third bishop of Charleston Patrick Lynch, who owned 80 slaves and reigned during, and for 22 years after, the War of Northern Aggression. Barra researched Lynch for four years when he was the senior staff writer for the Diocese of Charleston and wrote a profile of him for Catholic Heritage magazine. Most people, even most Catholics, do not realize that

Cotton and Bones

Catholics and Catholic institutions such as the Jesuit order owned slaves. The diocese kept Lynch under wraps for 150 years.


In the new book he is a sort of Nero Wolfe who interprets clues uncovered by the narrator, his aide Tom Dockery, a priest and former NYPD uniform.  A wealthy volunteer sacristan is murdered in the cathedral in the first chapter and Dockery works to solve the mystery before Charleston devolves into civil war. Within that narrative framework, Dockery explores his own attitude toward slavery as embraced by his beloved prelate.


Lynch rationalized the institution on biblical grounds and explained his own reasons for opposing abolitionism so strongly that Horace Greeley labeled him The Rebel Bishop in the N.Y. Herald.


His arguments are not outlandish to Dockery -- and will not be to the reader.