DEN OF THIEVES by Katharine Stall


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Set a Christian to catch a Christian: in this ungainly caper novel, the Christian Left foils an attempt by the Christian Right to brainwash America for Jesus. On the Left are narrator P.K. (Preacher's Kid) Mather and her roommate Rosie, seniors at a New York seminary; P.K.'s father, the Reverend Sam, who's doing time for a Vietnam protest action; and Louise Macdonald and the Soldiers of Jeremiah, former divinity students who now (inspired by the Reverend Sam) are underground. On the Right, the Rev. Anderson, TV evangelist, and Harriet Masters, a cool blond operator who manipulates him, are trying to Christianize America through Conversion Management, using drugs and subliminal messages. Phase One, almost completed, involves kidnapping selected preachers at a Colorado retreat, brainwashing them, and returning them to their flocks. The scheme has worked, thanks to the complicity of the FBI. However, the Soldiers infiltrate Anderson's organization, managing to steal the conversion blueprint and a truckload of drugs. The blueprint finds its way into P.K.'s hands, and she, Rosie, and Louise (driver of the stolen truck) are chased cross-country by Harriet's agents. Rosie is caught, but Louise mobilizes the Soldiers, who storm Anderson's Colorado fortress. Outnumbered five to one, they are going down to defeat when a maverick cop saves the day. Nothing works here: not the narrative voice (too strident), the plotting (clumsy), the barely characterized Anderson (who wouldn't rate a second glance in a group of TV evangelists), nor the brainwashing material (which, almost 30 years after The Manchurain Candidate, is woefully old hat).

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster