A wealthy retired colonel with strong Christian beliefs supports his brother-in-law’s presidential candidacy, but ulterior motives may prove lethal in the author’s debut novel, the first in a proposed series.
Rev. Robert Strong, Independent presidential hopeful who had a good showing in the 2016 election, may have an even greater chance in 2020. His Christian-driven campaign is backed by Col. Sherman Gale, who has covertly initiated The Plan, under the rigid belief that God has spoken to him. After FBI agent Derrik Chu fails at gaining access to The Ranch—Gale’s 300,000-acre Christian community—the colonel seems to have a vested interest in him. But does Gale’s promise to get a Christian president elected at any cost necessitate the release of biological warfare? Andison rolls out an admirable thriller, one that’s propelled by plotlines that, like Gale himself, avoid predictability. The colonel’s Plan is frighteningly ingenious and leads to many impressive twists, most saved for the book’s final act. Christianity takes center stage, but the story’s treatment of religion is neither sanctimonious nor irreverent. There are fanatics as much as there are people with genuine faith and a persistent dichotomy—Gale’s erratic behavior versus Robert’s empathetic disposition. The first third of the book, as Chu is incorporated into the lives of Gale and his family, feels more like exposition than story, but this makes it all the more shocking when a narrative bombshell is dropped—courtesy of CIA agent Dr. Audrey Kunitz, who claims that all contacts and agencies are likely compromised. From that point, the book is decidedly more volatile, as Chu and Kunitz don’t know whom to trust. Chu is a flawed character—he has a short temper and doesn’t always make the right decisions—but he’s likable enough to garner sympathy. An open (and memorable) ending sets the groundwork for a sequel.
A religion-imbued story with a solid tempo and a bevy of surprises.