Second Coming: It’s all just a game by Andrew Smith

 

This is a very well written mystery/ thriller/supernatural/horror story which also dips into metaphysics.  I know that’s a mouthful, but that’s how I see it.  Not to mention the very interesting historical component involving the Crusades.  This story has a lot of twists, and I’m going to be as general as possible as I don’t want to introduce any spoilers, but it’s definitely not for children or the faint of heart.   There is no fluff involved here.   This is deep and dark with lots of violent action, and a lot of the horror is not of the supernatural variety.

The book starts a little slow, in Jerusalem, with the very pregnant wife of the protagonist, Charles, stopping on a lark to see a fortune teller, or oracle, and immediately getting into a situation that went terribly wrong.  The plot builds up from there, and  I must admit that at first I thought it wasn’t going to be my kind of story or to my tastes at all because of the violence, or the political/religious aspects, and I’m not much into either of those.  If you feel that way, I would advise you to keep reading.  I did, and am extremely glad I did.

The author is so descriptive with his characters that in short order, the reader gets to know them well and they become real people with personalities that are likeable (or not, such as the priest Estevez).  One can get pissed at them for doing something thoughtless, such as Charles’ seeming obliviousness in certain areas of his life which, among other things, strains his relationship with his son, Marcus.

There are plots and subplots, and things are not all black or white; the reader gets a sense of people doing the things they do because they believe it’s their duty or is the right thing to do (even if they’re wrong).  These are not cardboard characters; even the bad guys have layers (though some are what I, or anybody else, would consider to be just plain bad).    We learn a great deal about the revenant, Izz al-Din, and to my shock, there came a point where I found myself actually sympathizing with him, and believe me, I can’t remember a time when I’ve done that before!  And, he’s a truly bad, bad guy.  Trust me: this bad guy’s story has a real twist, in more ways than one.   The author sure knows how to surprise you and how to use words to paint images so you actually see a particular scene, some of which get pretty graphic.

This is a full-length, standalone novel but did leave what can only be construed as some “loose ends”, so I’m sincerely hoping there’s a sequel in the works.  In the meantime, this book is a highly intriguing, thrilling and enjoyable read.

Advertisements