Biblical thriller with compelling elements and characters, though it doesn’t fully deliver on its potential for mystery and...

Forerunners - A Prelude to the Second Coming

A priest and a diplomat believe the antichrist will soon rise to power and that his forerunner is already among them.

Father Matthew Huntington, an exemplary priest, works with local youth and on missions abroad with U.S. Ambassador John Elias. However, nothing in his experience prepares him for a morning when the pages of his Bible start turning themselves. A supernatural presence guides him to read passages from Revelation to his congregation; Father Matthew believes it might be a miracle, maybe even a warning from God. At the same time, the priest’s friend and sometime diplomatic partner, John, has experienced a revelation of his own. An infamous Washington, D.C., psychic tells him that holy visions have shown her that the end is near, and it is just as the Bible says. A forerunner to the antichrist is already on Earth, gaining power as a messenger of peace, she says, and paving the way for apocalypse. “From the signs, he could be one of at least six people on my list” of possible evil forerunners, she tells John. “And of the six,” she says, “you are included.” Soon after, the president sends Father Matthew, John, and popular Olympic athlete Jason Armstrong on a diplomatic mission to Greece. Unsure of what these omens and prophecies mean, the priest and diplomat must work together to discover who among them is a forerunner of peace and who is working for the antichrist. Leodas, author of several mystery novels, knows how to build scenes with incredible tension, shifting character motives, and shocking bursts of violence. However, as a book about the forerunners to apocalypse rather than the main event, most of the story feels like exposition and buildup to more exciting possibilities. Several enticing ideas and characters, in particular a cocky Italian policeman, seem to disappear from the main story, which never achieves the same crescendo and excitement that Leodas produces in smaller, more intimate moments; a premature reveal of the true villain doesn’t help. However, readers intrigued by prophecy-based thrillers will appreciate Leodas’ characters and prophetic details.

Biblical thriller with compelling elements and characters, though it doesn’t fully deliver on its potential for mystery and excitement.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5146-7184-9

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2015

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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