Jennifer Reese
June 01, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Father David Anderton moves to a small Scottish parish and almost willfully begins dismantling his life, allowing himself to be cast in the most villainous of roles: predatory Catholic priest. After avoiding difficult questions and desires for years, this intelligent, witty, and thoroughly likable character, now in his 50s, befriends some students in his parish school, notably Mark McNulty, a sexy, slippery 15-year-old. Early in their ambiguous friendship, Mark notes, “Some people would think it weird, wouldn’t they, a priest and a young guy sitting in a car?” Yes, they would. But the boy is also far less innocent than his priest, making their relationship — and Andrew O’Hagan’s beautiful, astute Be Near Me — all the more complicated. A-

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