Creatures of Habit

Book Cover



Pat Mullan

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Two boys flee in terror across the grounds of their boarding school, on a night when the rain slices the air like sheets of broken glass and trees bend and groan under gale-force winds. Before midnight one will die, exposing a dark world, centuries old



Short Summary

The two boys, breathless, reached the west corner of the big study hall and flattened themselves against the granite wall. Night had fallen and the wind had reached gale force. Sleety rain sliced the air like sheets of broken glass. The trees bent and groaned.

In total shock, he fell back against the car, unable to defend himself. His attacker moved swiftly, shoving the blade under Father Roland’s rib-cage and forcing it directly upwards into the heart. Father Roland Cormack died on the ground beside his car.


Ireland, USA, Italy: Galway, Dublin, New York, Rome

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Other

Plot - Other Elements

Philosophical Questions,Other

Mature Audience Themes

Extreme Violence,Sexual Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: Ed Burke

Age: 38

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Confident,Complex,Empathetic,Faithful,Educated,Honorable,Leader,Masculine,Patriotic,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Bernard Flaherty

Age: 46

Gender: Male

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Complex,Desperate,Educated,Religious,Criminal

Additional Character Details

Name: Roland Cormack

Age: 30

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Complex,Desperate,Educated,Narcisstic,Religious,Secretive

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

Before midnight Emmet Joyce's son will die, exposing a dark world, centuries old. Emmet rejects the school’s assertion that his son died accidentally. With a Church surrounded by scandal, cover-ups within the Church, and failures to protect children in their care, the priests who run the school no longer command the unquestioning trust of their flock. Emmet trusts only one man to uncover the truth: his cousin, Ed Burke. But Ed is now in Florida, recovering from stress and burn-out in his New York law practice, and a failed attempt to start again in Ireland. Despite his reluctance to return to Ireland, Ed knows that he can’t refuse his family at this time of need. So Ed Burke returns again to find that the Ireland of the twenty-first century is still the Ireland of James Joyce where ‘Christ and Caesar go hand in glove’. His quest for the truth leads him from Galway and Dublin to Boston and Rome, following a trail enmeshed in one family’s desire to occupy the chair of Peter, a desire under threat from that dark world, centuries old. But an avenger stalks the land, one who exacts justice at the end of a rope, one who seeks revenge, not truth. Ed knows that all roads lead to Rome and he also knows that, if he is to uncover what really happened to his cousin’s son, he must protect the guilty.

About The Author

Pat Mullan's recent work has appeared in the anthology, DUBLIN NOIR, published in the USA by Akashic Books and in Ireland and the UK by Brandon Books and again in ‘City-Pick DUBLIN’, published by Oxygen Books in 2010 to mark Dublin being chosen as UNESCO’S City of Culture for 2010. His first novel, The Circle of Sodom, received two nominations, one for Best First Novel and one for Best Suspense Thriller, at the 2005 Love Is Murder conference in Chicago. His second novel, Blood Red Square, was published in the US in 2005. His latest novels are Last Days of The Tiger, Creatures of Habit and A Deadly Gamble. Most are now available on TaleFlick. He is Ireland Chair of International Thriller Writers, Inc. Visit him at

Target Audiences

Age: 35-54

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Athry House Books

Year Published: 2011

Hard Copy Available



ISBN-10: 0983865205 ISBN-13: 978-0983865209




A string of murders at a Catholic school rocks a small community. A young boy’s apparent accident is being investigated and the priest are the prime suspect. A centuries old secret organization of homosexuals is uncovered and detectives try to expose it and its abuse.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: GOOD

Premise: GOOD

Structure: FAIR

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

No, the book profile does not fully reflect the book. The profile discusses two young boys running for their lives and one dying. That is the event that drives the plot. The two boys are dead within the first chapter. The story focuses around the detectives trying to uncover the real reason the boys died and expose the dark secret of the Catholic priest, and that could be added to the setup description.

Draw of Story

The first chapter shows the young boy, Terry, being chased for his phone and terrified of the priest. He is so terrified that he falls to his death trying to escape. That drew me in, and the curiosity to understand how the characters were brought to that moment in time.

Possible Drawbacks

At times, the story reads like an older children's book, and the dialogue isn't very cultivated.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that young boy is found dead from an accidental fall and his roommate is found hanging from a tree. The Catholic church claims it was a accident but some can see the unsavory circumstances surrounding the events.

Fanbase Potential

This could have a large fan base because it is suspenseful and dramatic, and deals with a real issue. Films similar to it have done very well. There is also a rise in exposing injustices and this film does just that.

Awards Potential

This could have awards potential if developed more. Films similar to this have had great success, critically. The deaths of the boys gives it more gravitas as well.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

As it is now, this story has been done a number of times.

Lead Characters

There is nothing about the lead characters that make them stand out at the moment.

Uniqueness of Story

The is an average story, considering this subject matter has been done many times before.

Possible Formats

Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

Analyst Recommendation



While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

If this story maybe dealt with another organization that is not the Catholic Church. It has been done many times before. The structure is still interesting, though.