PILLAR OF FIRE by Robert Irvine


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 Once more onto Irvine's turf--Salt Lake City, home to Moroni Traveler, his father, Martin, and the detective agency they share (The Hosanna Shout, 1994, etc.). This time, the two have taken on an assignment from powerful apostle Josiah Ellsworth to find and return Josiah's daughter, Liz Smoot, and her cancer-stricken young son, supposedly now cured by a Dr. Jason Thurgood. The doctor, being hailed as a miracle worker, holds healing sessions in Fire Creek, a town in the cult-ridden southwest corner of the state where a polygamous sect known as Moroni's Children has taken over, powered by henchmen Orris Porter and Horace Snelgrove. Martin is also committed to finding retarded, 16-year-old Petey Biscardi, who's gone missing from the Echo Canyon Clinic, a government holdover from the atomic-bomb-testing years. The detectives, aided by solo lawman Ed Peake, find a comfortable haven in Fire Creek-- and a touch of romance for Moroni--in the house of 40ish, widowed Ruth Holcomb. In the dreary desert town, Moroni's Children are everywhere, often in the person of Orris Porter, a sadistic bully who takes what he wants, including Liz Smoot, now one of his women, whose son seems truly healed. The Travelers meet Thurgood and are impressed; hear the stories of survivors of the cancer-ridden downwinds; discover Petey's fate; helplessly survey a murder site; and, in a flash of bravado, accomplish their primary mission. Irvine's eccentric, disjointed narrative style is unsettling, but the unique physical and psychological terrain he explores exerts a fascination that holds the reader to the finish.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13588-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1995


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