Monday, November 2, 2015

Review of Bridging the Abyss

There's a very favorable review of my new novel Bridging the Abyss at Booknotes, a column written by the owner of Hearts and Minds Bookstore, Byron Borger. I encourage you to read it by going here and scrolling down to the picture of my previous book In the Absence of God. Here's an excerpt from Byron's review:
Bridging the Abyss ... is really full of action and pathos and page-turning thrills which makes for a better read. Of course it keeps coming back to this central insistence -- if modern people dispense with God and believe life can go on as before, valuing goodness and beauty and meaning and human dignity - they are living a conceit. There is no sturdy reason or basis for acting as if this or that is truer or better. Dostoevsky was right. We are staring at a huge abyss if we are only honest enough to admit it. The title comes from a realization that one of the characters in the story voices in his own struggles with this very question. The cover photo aptly shows an abyss.

Unless, unless. Unless there is an older truth - deeper magic, in Lewis terms - that tells us that there is indeed more to life than meets the eye. There is more. There is a God and God has spoken and we can deduce right and wrong, or at least notions of the good, the true, the beautiful. There is an order to the givenness. The abyss is real, but it can be bridged, and the gospel of Christ is the most reliable answer to our existential quandary.

The dialogues between the main characters in this new story are realistic enough, but they do circle back to these tough religious questions. In Bridging the Abyss, though, these are not college teachers in the faculty lounge. These lively characters in Bridging include frantic, grief-stricken Baltimore parents whose daughter has suddenly disappeared - we learn that she has been abducted by a deadly serious cell of sexual traffickers and she is most likely bound for a perverse Saudi sheikh. Their questions are more urgent then most of us can imagine.

Unknown to the parents, or their caring inner-city pastor, whose own story is wonderfully told, there is an under-the-radar group of former Navy SEALs doing a vigilante-style rescue of the captured and trafficked children. (Does the FBI know about these guys? Are they complicit, at odds, in some sort of "look the other way" cooperation? Who are the good guys and who is to be trusted? Why are they doing this undercover work?)
If you choose to purchase a copy of Bridging - and of course I hope you do - I hope also that you'll order it from Hearts and Minds. H&M is an independent mom and pop bookshop, probably among the best such bookstores on the east coast, and the folks there are top-notch in terms of their knowledge of books and the service they provide their customers.

Unfortunately, it's not easy carving out market share when you're competing with big box stores like Borders and online giants like Amazon. Byron and his wife Beth, have worked very hard over the last thirty or so years to build a wonderful bookstore and an outstanding reputation, and they deserve the support of all of us who buy, read, and love books.