In his foreword to this "Novel for a New Age," as the publisher touts it, mystery maven Block (the Matt Scudder and Evan Tanner series, etc.) thanks 15 spiritual teachers for their "valuable assistance." Too bad none of these gums had the smarts to tell Block to shelve this naive, preachy, and dull offering about a ragtag band of pilgrims who achieve ersatz wisdom on their walk to nowhere. The first walker is Oregon bartender Guthrie Wagner, who one day hears a voice in his head say, "You could take a walk." Take a walk Guthrie does, quitting his job and stepping east. Right away, small miracles occur: he sleeps in near-freezing air and feels no chill; he gives up smoking without trying. Meanwhile, two others soon to cross paths with Guthrie go about their business: 30-ish Indiana mom Sara Duskin, losing her sight but gaining insight and vision; and serial killer Mark Adlon, a woman-hating, millionaire real-estate investor whose stalking and slaying of a slew of victims provides the only real suspense here. As Mark goes on a cross-country killing spree, Sara ups stakes and, young son in tow, follows her heart to Guthrie, who's now strolling along with a buddy he's picked up along the way. The quartet ambles on, joined by dozens, then scores of others who feel the irresistible pull to walk; miracle cures of cancer and paralysis balloon among the walkers as Sara, now the band's acknowledged gum, goes into a trance and reveals their purpose: "to cure the planet's cancer. . .when enough people are walking, the planetary consciousness will reach critical mass, and then everybody will just plain get it without walking." Even serial killers, it seems: when Mark finally feels the call and finds the walkers, they forgive him his murders—after all, as Sara tells him, "Is it your fault they're dead? No. Every death is a kind of suicide; the one who dies chooses it." Fair warning: Run, don't walk, away from this dull psychospiritual babble.
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