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Independence Day meets Lord of the Rings in a one-of-a-kind eschatological fantasy from prodigiously versatile Martin (Crazy Love, 2002, etc.).

There’s no scientific reason the St. Louis Memorial Arch should have turned black, but Lakota Sioux ghost dancer John Brown Dog, who made it happen, claims that only unpasteurized milk can clean it. John’s garrulous account of his odyssey from Tennessee west in the company of Elena, a prostitute so special John calls her God’s whore, makes no sense to Charlie Hart, the FBI agent charged with getting the truth out of him. And John’s explanation of the shape shadows that he maintains he can command makes Charlie so irritated that he’s about to cut the prisoner loose. But when John conjures the magical shadows in his interrogation room, Charlie can’t deny the evidence. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can’t. The congressional committee appointed to investigate the outrage sends him packing, and the committee’s minions confiscate his evidence. Meantime, the Bureau has freed John without charging him with a crime, even though he’s clearly on his way to further acts of terrorism at Mt. Rushmore and Little Bighorn. After generations of Native Americans taking whatever the Europeans who colonized North America dished out, someone has chosen John to set the balance straight. Unless the government turns over all federal and state forests, parklands and protected natural places to the indigenous inhabitants, John prophecies, every woman on earth, save perhaps for a small number of Native Americans, will be unable to bear children, and human life will enter its final century.

You don’t believe a word of this, do you? Neither do Charlie and the powers that be—and the resulting debate, laced with action, is exactly the point of this provocative doomsday scenario.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-684-85349-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2005


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