In Hendley’s (Prelude, 2011) thriller, a devout Christian writer teams up with a reporter to find a connection between a messianic figure and a nuclear threat in the Middle East.
An international debate rages about the nature of the man called Mashiah, a mysterious but hugely popular faith healer who’s inspiring hard-line nationalism in Israel. Novelist Tony Nichols thinks little of this wannabe messiah’s secular spirituality, and his own studies of Biblical prophecy, and his heartfelt Christian faith, reveal that there’s something false and sinister about Mashiah. Later, one of Tony’s obsessed fans, a dying man, warns the writer that Mashiah is not what he seems; he also says that the answers to Tony’s questions lie in Spain. Tony reluctantly collaborates with unflappable reporter Jack Schwartz and uses Jack’s connections and his own considerable guile to prove that Mashiah’s power is demonic in nature. As a Mashiah-inspired terrorist organization makes nuclear overtures and natural disasters increase around the world, Tony and Jack could be witnessing the early signs of the end times. As in many world-spanning thrillers, Hendley fills his story with a large cast of characters, but they’re mostly men of power and privilege who aren’t memorable enough to draw attention away from the main characters. Tony and Jack establish an entertaining, if sometimes-repetitive, rapport, with Tony, the staunch, conservative believer, egging on Jack, the voice of doubt; their friendly jibing is a highlight of the book. However, both characters are a bit thinly developed; the novel never explores their motives very deeply, aside from Tony’s initial experience with the dying man and Jack’s journalistic zeal. That said, the book excels at creating intrigue, with plenty of back-room scenes, references to civil unrest in the Middle East and biblical prophecy, although it often seems more comfortable drawing out conversations than exploring the international fallout.
An often suspenseful thriller, sometimes hampered by too much exposition.