A CIA operative–turned-monk threatens a covert organization that advocates science over religion in Jambor’s (Wildfire in the Desert, 2015) thriller.
The reason that Deep Water Ventures geologist Charles DeVibo is prevented from publishing his academic paper on renewable oil isn’t scientific but political—it might make oil companies lose revenue. This grim revelation sets Charles on an entirely new path. After a decade in the CIA, he joins a monastery to pursue his quest to find “Beauty, Goodness, and Truth” in the world. Years later, inspired by the Dom’s dream of a man emerging from the sea into a desert, he returns to his Arizona homeland to teach others what he’s learned. His arrival in the United States catches the attention of worldwide group EMR, whose Latin name references mankind’s progress through science. At the same time, EMR’s education analyst, Sibyl Bough, is concerned about a famous Tucson art teacher named Chiara Maye Gunnarson, who teaches that art speaks to the soul. EMR asserts that souls don’t exist, so Bough tries shutting the teacher down via the local school board. When that doesn’t work, EMR sends operatives after her and her former drug-mule boyfriend, Rodrigo Cruz. Weapons-trained Charles lends them a helping hand, which makes him EMR’s immediate target. Although most of the action comes later in the novel, the villains prove to be refreshing throughout. They’re largely ambiguous, preferring to use Latin monikers (such as “Primus”) instead of real names and physical violence as a last resort. Charles’ life quest is noble but vague, as it’s impossible to determine if he’s making any headway. Nevertheless, he’s consistently heroic and willing to sacrifice his mission to help a stranger. The overall narrative is generally abstract (alluding to God as “Source of Existence,” for example), but it’s also poetic: Charles in the remote desert, for example, “could feel in his nothingness the presence of the Absolute that created such vastness.”
A suspenseful tale brimming with intriguing concepts.