Putnam/Penguin, $26.95, 409 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-16765-2
Across the world today, debates are raging between believers and non-believers about the existence of God, and the power of prayer. Radicals are trying to establish theocracies where everyone will adhere to strict religious law, as in Iran, where there’s no separation between church and State, because the church is the government. It’s where religious authority figures interpret the words of God as written down by the prophet Mohammed and pass them on to the ordinary folk . . . who follow without hesitation. And hey, don’t worry—this isn’t a religious sermon—far from it in fact.
One of my favorite authors has written a pulse-quickening new thriller about an FBI agent in Houston, Texas who is wrestling with this self-same dilemma. Prayer, by Philip Kerr, begins with FBI Domestic Terrorism Agent Gil Martins discovering that he has played a key role in wrongly convicting a man, and condemning him to death row. Up to that point in his career, he has always thought of himself as one of the good guys who are part of the solution, not part of the problem. But the wrongful conviction shakes him to the core, causing him to have doubts about himself, his career, his marriage . . . even his belief and faith in God. As he is losing his faith however, his wife is reaffirming hers and their relationship starts to fall apart . . . just as a vicious serial killer begins targeting the morally righteous in and around Houston for what appears to be religious reasons, and the case goes from homicide to domestic terrorism. Confronted with what seems illogical, bordering even on supernatural acts, Martins offers up a simple prayer asking for proof that God exists. When no response comes he loses his faith altogether, becomes estranged from his wife and doubts in his ability to bring justice to the world. But he soon learns that you should be careful what you pray for . . . your answer may come in an unexpected way, at the risk of that which you hold most dear . . . from a far different deity than you thought you knew. Those who read this pulse-pounding thriller will find themselves thinking about it long after they’re through reading, because the conclusion is not only exciting—it’s downright astonishing! See for yourself why Philip Kerr is one of our favorite new authors.