In Keating’s (The River, 2014, etc.) latest thriller, the pastor/man of action returns, this time caught up in murder and deceit surrounding an independent baseball league in New York.
Pastor Stephen Grant is one of the chaplains asked by billionaire and minor league baseball team owner Mike Vanacore to pray with the players before home games. Mike’s also hired a security team to extract religiously persecuted Dawud Wasem from Iraq so he can convert to Christianity and join Mike’s team in the New York Summer League of Professional Baseball. But a fight over the construction of new ballparks may be the reason the Streit brothers, working for an unknown party, are snatching people for info before brutally murdering them. And when someone enters the U.S. for revenge regarding Dawud’s escape, Stephen, a former SEAL and CIA assassin, may have to pick up his guns once again. The author packs a lot into this frantically paced novel: the Streits are killing people left and right; Stephen’s economist wife, Jennifer, tries to prevent the McGowans from losing their land to the ballparks; and a raft of action sequences and baseball games are thrown into the mix. The multiple villains and twists raise the stakes. As a recurring protagonist, Stephen does surprisingly little. The formidable Paige Caldwell leads the security team in the hunt for the murderers, while the pastor’s most significant contribution doesn’t really happen until near the end, when he races to thwart yet another assassination. Stephen’s even outshined as a preacher: it’s Pastor Zack Charmichael who counsels one of the troubled baseball players. Regardless, Stephen remains an engaging and multifaceted character: he may still use, when necessary, the violence associated with his former professions, but he at least acknowledges his shortcomings—and prays about it.
Action fans will find plenty to love here, from gunfights and murder sprees to moral dilemmas.