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6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
    -The Revelation of Saint John the Divine (King James Bible)

I'm embarrassed to admit how far behind I tend to fall on reading and reviewing the book we accept as submissions here and we get enough now that if a book doesn't grab me early I may well set it aside for awhile or forever. But first-time novelist Robert Liparulo has written a lightly Christian-themed horror/thriller that is truly scary at the same time it's compulsive reading. Fortunately the most graphically horrifying portion of the book occurs early, so when you're still up turning pages after midnight every creak of every floorboard in your house won't totally freak you out--though a bark from a neighbor's dog may result in cardiac arrest. Be assured though, you will hit a point in the book where even though you mean to go to sleep any minute you'll keep reading instead.

Brady Moore is an FBI profiler who lost his wife in an accident 18 months earlier and is only being kept out of the slough of despond by the need to care for his young son and the ability to lose himself in his work. His partner, Alicia Wagner, specializes at investigating crime scenes with high-tech gear, though she longs to get in on the pursuit and arrest end of the job too. Brady is a man of faith, though it's been sorely tested by recent events and he's drinking too much. Alicia is more skeptical, but respects religion, especially her partner's faith and seems to wish she shared it. [Indeed, I wonder if the likelihood of sequels didn't prevent Mr. Liparulo from ending with a twist that he seems to have set up earlier in the book.] She's far scrappier than he, in fact his hesitation and tendency towards contemplation of moral consequences proves quite dangerous at various points. One of the many ways in which the author's own Christianity informs the story without making it dogmatic or cloying.

The two agents are assigned to investigate a spree of killings in which seemingly unconnected victims are being attacked by dogs, beheaded, and marked with a Norse sun symbol. In another interesting move on Mr. Liparulo's part, the perpetrator ends up being perhaps the most compelling character in the book despite being anything but Christian.

Meanwhile, a secret society of Watchers is meeting in Europe to determine whether a publicly charismatic but privately brutal Italian diplomat, Luco Scaramuzzi, is the Antichrist their organization has been awaiting for centuries. When Brady and Alicia are attacked separately and nearly killed they realize someone inside the FBI has set them up and when they tie the killing to Scaramuzzi they end up traveling to the Vatican and Jerusalem with no backup to battle this putative Antichrist.

Mr. Liparulo apparently has some prior experience as a screenwriter and he shows a cinematic flair. Chapters flow by like scenes in a movie -- short set pieces that advance the story rapidly -- and it's easy to visualize the action. In fact, you're likely to start casting the film version in your head and the movie rights reportedly have been sold already. We eagerly await it and the sequels sure to follow this fine debut.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

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Horror
Robert Liparulo Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Robertliparulo.com
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Robert Liparulo (Thomas Nelson) -New Man Magazine
    -ESSAY: Deconstructing Da Vinci: There are those who say The Da Vinci Code is only a novel. Others point fingers and call the book blasphemous. Our proper response should fall somewhere in between. (Robert Liparulo, Nov/Dec 2005, New Man)
    -ESSAY: It's a Whole New Ball Game: Imagine companies where people have fun at their jobs. Where labor-management divisions are nonexistent and multimillion-dollar decisions are made by the rank and file. That's Dennis Bakke's bold vision for corporate America. Click here to apply. (Robert Liparulo, July/August 2005, New Man)
    -ESSAY: A President's Son: The Life, Death and Rebirth of Michael Reagan: David killed Goliath with a stone, guided by the hand of God, For Michael Reagan, Goliath was the soul killing memory of being molested by a man he trusted. Here, he talks to New Man about slaying the giants of the past ... and finding identity in the family of God. (Robert Liparulo, May/June 2005, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Controversial Christian Comedy: Brad Stine is in your face, shoving his moral values down your throat ... so why are you laughing? (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2004, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Life on the Frontlines: As American bombs fell on Afghanistan, missionary John Weaver stayed to mend spiritual wounds. (Robert Liparulo, March/April 2003, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Mac Attack: There's something childlike about Mac Powell as he crouches in the corner of a dressing room in Denver's Pepsi Center arena (Robert Liparulo, September/October 2003, New Man)
    -ESSAY: The United State of Worship: With artists like Michael W. Smith and Kirk Franklin leading the way, praise and worship music is booming in popularity—and bringing together Christians of all stripes and colors. (Bob Liparulo, July/August 2003, Today's Christian)
    -ESSAY: Tale Spin: Murder? Suspense? Author Ted Dekker's gritty fiction isn't safe--and Christian guys love him for it. (Robert Liparulo, March/April 2003, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Beyond Butterfly Kisses: Bob Carlisle's song is a wedding anthem, but he still isn't ready to give away his little girl. (Robert Liparulo, March/April 2003, New Man)
    -ESSAY: My Message to Eminem: Christian rapper KJ-52 urges Christians to pray for 'Slim Shady.' (Robert Liparulo, January/February 2003, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Solid Rock?: They've tuned out the gospel music industry, can they keep the faith? (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2002, New Man)
    -INTERVIEW: That Old-Time Religion: New Man's interview will Bill Gaither (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2002, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Life After Playboy: A former centerfold discovered fulfillment helping Haiti's neediest children. Now she's ready to expose the evils of pornography. (Robert Liparulo, September/October 2002, Today's Christian)
    -ESSAY: The Pied Piper Of Christian Rock: New Man gets the goods on hot new artist David Crowder. (Robert Liparulo, September/October 2002, New Man)
    -INTERVIEW: Card Tricks: New Man goes one-on-one with singer Michael Card. (Robert Liparulo, July/August 2002, New Man)
    -ESSAY: The Gospel...According to Star Wars: Is George Lucas' made-up universe a faith-stimulating metaphor or just a New Age Jedi mind trick? (Robert Liparulo, May/June 2002, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Think Big: Move Over Harry Potter, Step Aside Stephen King. Bruce Wilkinson's Little Book On Prayer Is Challenging Men Everywhere To Think Big For God. (Robert Liparulo, May/June 2002, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Rumors of Faith: Celebrities who profess Christ will stumble just as we all do. How should we respond? (Robert Liparulo, July/August 2001, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Tech the Halls: This year our editors made out your Christmas list. (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2001, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Is Christian Originality Dead? (Robert Liparulo, May/June 2001, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Harry Potter: Should You Be Afraid of This Boy? (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2000, New Man)
    -ESSAY: Are Christian Films Getting Better? (Robert Liparulo, January/February 2001, New Man)
    -ESSAY: What Playboy Doesn't Want You to Know: A former playmate says men only see the airbrushed bodies of nude models, and not the pain that often lies within. (Robert Liparulo, November/December 2000, New Man)
    -REVIEW: of Family Shock: Keeping Families Strong By Gary R. Collins (Robert Liparulo, A Closer Look)
    -REVIEW: of Run with the Vision: A Remarkable Global Plan for the 21st Century Church By Bob Sjogren and Bill & Amy Stearns (Robert Liparulo, A Closer Look)
    -REVIEW: of Threshold By Bill Myers (Robert Liparulo, A Closer Look)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Tip By Michael Farris (Robert Liparulo, A Closer Look)
    -REVIEW: of The God You're Looking For By Bill Hybels (Robert Liparulo, A Closer Look)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo (Publishers' Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Mary Lynn Mercer, Why Stories Work)
   
-REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Joe Hartlaub, Book Reporter)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Jenn Wright, Hollywood Jesus)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Rick Stilwell, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman ()
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Sara Mills and Kelli Standish, Focus on Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Mary Fairchild, About.com)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Alan Paul Curtis, who-dunnit.com)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (The Brown BookLoft)
    -REVIEW: of Comes a Horseman (Jeremiah McNabb, Dancing Word)

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