McGrath (Does Environmental Law Work?, 2010) delivers a thriller about suppressed truths and a secret organization bent on protecting them.
At the outset of this story, set around 2005, the heavy-drinking Sean McKenna finds himself at a Jerusalem cafe. Now in his late 50s, Sean spent some time working for the U.S. government as a linguist and cryptographer during the Vietnam War. He later turned his experiences into a book with “impressive sales,” and his current plans revolve around writing a novel, establishing contacts with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to “do some mild investigation,” and eventually achieving “the good life on a private Caribbean Island.” His grand scheme is interrupted, however, when he falls for beautiful archaeologist Faith Foley. Fifteen years Sean’s junior, she’s involved in an excavation that may lead to some startling religious discoveries. When a digger on her crew suddenly fears for his life, terrified of the secret religious organization Opus Dei, Faith sends him to meet Sean. But before they can converse, the digger is gunned down. Faith and Sean flee for their lives, but they’re quickly intercepted by a Mossad agent. Everyone seems to have the same question: what could a simple laborer have known that would get him murdered in public? Sean and Faith subsequently flee Mossad, but the plot thickens to involve the truth behind some aspects of Christianity and people who prefer such information to remain hidden. The action features a Blackhawk helicopter, hooded men with AK-47s, and a plethora of violent scuffles that keep the adventure lively. The portions of the novel exposing murky religious orders cover material that’s been explored in popular fiction before (as in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a book Sean admits that he hasn’t read, prompting Faith to briefly explain Opus Dei to him). However, the story here ventures into even deeper evils. The dialogue is often obvious, as when Sean demands that someone “Find a seat and buckle up!” That said, some of the same character’s musings provide insights; at one point, he reflects that religion was once the opiate of the masses, but now the powers that be use “patriotism, fiery rhetoric and the means to deliver it to the people who still think they control their government.”
Readers initially intrigued by the story’s action are likely to come away with deeper thoughts on mechanisms of control.