Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arty -- Comes A Horseman by Robert Liparulo

A possible serial killer who decapitates his victims. An Italian politician who desperately wants - needs - more power. And... Antichrist.

How in the world are these all connected? You'll just have to read it and see, because I honestly cannot sum it up.

The main characters - Brady Moore and Alicia Wagner, two FBI agents who are trying to make sense of the grisly murders of five people. The victims are completely different; there are no obvious similarities to give the serial killer theory credit. But, of course, Brady and Alicia keep trying to uncover the mystery... and find themselves in the middle of Vatican secrets and prophecies thousands of years old.

Sound complicated yet? There's way more.

I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of Liparulo just from reading his Dreamhouse Kings series (a YA six-book series that I simply cannot plug enough - it's that good). So I had high hopes for him, despite this being a Christian adult novel. I've said in two previous reviews that I don't usually hold much hope for those. Even now, I'm not sure if I like it just because I have a special place for Liparulo in my heart and my library, or if it was really good. But I'm pretty sure it was the latter.

Crime procedurals are standard Christian fic material; add in some Satanic cults and spiritual warfare as well as physical, and that still accounts for a lot of bad-review fodder. And no, Comes A Horseman isn't the pinnacle of originality. But it's just good. Liparulo's style is clear and interesting (though maybe not as punchy as Ted Dekker). The pace is usually good, keeping it along at a quick but not rushed pace.

The characters are good, too. You have Brady, a guy still neck-deep in grief for his dead wife, hanging on only for his nine-year-old son Zach (who, by the way, is adorable). Alicia is a gung-ho gal who tends to remind one of the Energizer Bunny. Of course, you have the hints of romance between the two. But it's realistic, taking a back seat to the action; or, rather, it enhances the action by giving the two characters someone else to fight for and not just fawn over.

Another note on characters - the author is not afraid to beat them up. I was practically groaning for Brady by the final ten chapters or so of the book.

I was starting to get worried by the last chapter; this novel just keep going and going, the action showing no sign of slowing down. And yes, the end was abrupt, and more than a little too easy. It wasn't quite the apocalypse I was hoping it to be. That might have been the point - I'm not sure.

Perhaps it won't win any awards, but Comes A Horseman is definitely a keeper for fans of Christian fic. And, even if you're 'too old' for YA, I strongly urge you to check out the Dreamhouse Kings series, beginning with House of Dark Shadows. Robert Liparulo, obviously, is not an author to be missed.

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