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A crowd-pleasing if not-especially-enlightening ""spiritual journey,"" … la The Celestine Prophecy, is taken by a surprisingly engaging cast of characters. Middle-aged history professor John McGowan, a self-described ""non-believer,"" lives a quiet existence with his wife, Sarah, and their two young sons near the backwoods Pennsylvania college where he teaches--until the day he receives a certified letter from Washington attorney James Stanton informing him of a sudden ""inheritance"" that he must collect in person at Stanton's D.C. office. The inheritance proves to be a cigar box containing three letters, including one from his father, archaeologist Bill McGowan, who left the States for a dig in Israel when John was five and never returned. The letters document Bill's discovery of--and eventual loss of--the ""Messiah Stones,"" three carved tablets given to Moses by Jehovah prophesying the final coming of the Messiah. When an overwhelmed John returns home and shows the letters to Sarah, the two decide they have no choice but to fulfill what seems to be their shared destiny: to re-find the stones. They head for Israel with Martha, a colleague of John's and a seeker of spirituality in her own right; once in Jerusalem, they meet up with Avi, a best friend of Bill's who helped him find the stones 40 years before. En route to their final goal, the gang receives encouraging signs from the Messiah in the form of angel-like ""messengers,"" and ultimately hooks up with Simon, who brings them to Bill McGowan's gravesite and helps them all, quite literally, see the light. First-time author Benig may not be the second coming of James Redfield, but this lightweight adventure can be a fun jaunt nonetheless.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard