22 November 2013

Review: The Church Builder by AL Sheilds

Religious Thriller that ticks all the boxes

Six months ago, Bethany Barclay’s best friend was murdered. Now Bethany comes home to find the body of her ex-boyfriend on her floor, her gun on the floor, and a strange symbol painted on the wall—a symbol that reminds her of something Annabelle said before she died. Are the two deaths related? Bethany believes so, but the police are convinced she’s responsible for Ken’s death. She goes on the run to try and find the link between the two murders, but things get harder when she’s implicated in a bombing as well.

It’s quickly apparent hat Bethany has been set up. It’s also apparent that there is more than one group of people after her. What isn’t immediately not clear is why. What does she know? And who can she trust? Her search leads her first to Chicago, The World Foundation for the Fulfilment of God’s Personal Plan and Martin Potus, another ex-boyfriend who is now leader of God’s Planners, a possible cult.

The Church Builder s the first novel in what promised to be an exciting series from AL Shields (better known as Stephen L Carter, Professor of Law at Yale). It’s tightly-plotted with two secret societies fighting for opposing sides in a religious battle, a range of ambiguous characters (it’s hard to tell who is good and who Bethany needs to be suspicious of) and a fast pace that sometimes makes it even more difficult to keep the characters straight—not to mention their loyalties.

The Church Builder isobeys several 'laws' of modern fiction with its distant POV, switching between past and present tense for no apparent reason and an over-reliance on telling (especially at the beginning), but somehow it works, for me at least (even though my mind says it shouldn’t). It’s the first book in a series, and while the central plot of this book was resolved, the ending also serves as the introduction to the central conflict in the next book.

Recommended for those who like fast-paced thrillers and don’t mind reading a serial.

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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