In this theological thriller, a veteran police officer attempts to track down a peculiarly talented man suffering from amnesia who may be the key to the fate of the world.
Sgt. Alex Randall sees an “impossibly good looking” man meandering about aimlessly down a dead-end road. When he stops to check on his well-being, Randall discovers the man is suffering from radical amnesia. Not only does he not remember his own name, he seems to know virtually nothing about the world—he has to inquire what an ID is when asked to produce one. Randall decides to take him to Templeton Hall, a local psychiatric institute, where the stranger immediately charms the entire nursing staff—he’s so handsome, they name him Rex, Latin for king. Rex is visited at the hospital by an old man who warns him to flee—evil is fast approaching—and the next day, he’s disappeared and everyone at the facility, more than two dozen people, is found tortured and dead. Meanwhile, a man named Camael visits Randall and requests his help to find Rex—he’s willing to pay extravagant sums of money. He claims that Rex’s life is somehow wrapped up in the destiny of humanity, and despite the utter implausibility of his view, Randall is inclined to believe him and suspects he is an angel. Rex is preternaturally gifted at all things, and is recruited to become some kind of star—maybe a musician or a baseball player or actor—and is represented by Molly Simon, a photographer eager to capitalize on his infinite skills and marquee good looks. In his energetic novel, Carroll (The Horror Writer, 2017, etc.), a bestselling author and former journalist twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, artfully combines two genres—a hard-boiled detective mystery and a religion-infused tale about the end of the world. He blends the inventive with the stale, creating an unpredictable adventure within an all-too-familiar formula. But Randall’s character is a notable point of weakness—it’s hard to square his history as a policeman and soldier with his quick credulity. It’s remarkably early in the story when he confidently claims to Molly: “Make up your own mind…but to me it’s looking like a good versus evil thing.”
An action-packed and refreshingly innovative take on a popular genre.