The chief of police and the new youth pastor in a Georgia town encounter demonic forces in the author’s debut novel.
The coastal town of Sea Mist has had so little crime that cops don’t have the Miranda rights memorized. So contending with a missing person and a dead cop found in the woods puts a lot on Chief Ed Geffen’s plate. Auntie Bell, known for her gift of sight, has visions of an impending evil—ostensibly confirmed by the onslaught of strange animals, including giant snakes and apelike creatures. And Ed, along with the community church’s latest hire, Pastor Tom Grant, believes the man responsible may be the Antichrist. Hendley’s book seems aimed at Christian readers. Its intentions clearly aren’t to alienate non-Christian readers, but the religious message of Tom’s sermons and classes sometimes commandeers the plot. And while he preaches beliefs that some might not agree with, e.g., Christianity is the only path to God, the plot continues elsewhere, as Ed questions Tom’s students. Sea Mist, a resort town with luxurious beachside homes, provides an excellent, atmospheric backdrop for evil. The supernatural elements—a tiger with horizontal stripes, a protective white light—add interest. But it’s the real-world dilemmas that hold the most weight, such as Ed’s uncertainty over what to tell the public regarding the ongoing murder cases and Tom’s anxiety on his first day as the youth pastor. The novel’s final act maintains its religious theme and suspense as Tom, Ed and their loved ones become targets for otherworldly beasts. The author also infuses the narrative with a bit of humor, even acknowledging the offbeat plot when the editor of a local newspaper, a notorious “kook,” summarizes the bizarre goings-on for a private investigator.
A thriller with a Christian angle and an ample supply of puzzle pieces to entice readers of any creed.