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If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
    -John 11:9b-11

Waking Lazarus, by first-time novelist T. L. Hines, is a fast paced and satisfying spiritual thriller. I'd say that once you pick it up you can't put it down, but I made the mistake of starting it too late in the evening and had to set it aside until morning because it was creeping me out.

Ron Gress lives the quietest life he can, a school janitor in Red Lodge, Montana, with multiple locks on his boarded up house, few acquaintances and no friends, though he does see his young son on occasion. All that is about to change though, as a mysterious woman, Kristina, who knows about the secrets of his past has tracked him down. For Gress is actually Jude Allman, who has famously, or notoriously, died three times and come back to life after each. One of the more effective conceits of the novel is that in this age of voracious media the beneficiary of such miracles would indeed have to hide from the rest of us and might well become as paranoid as "Gress" about being tracked down.

Kristina's presence begins the process of prying Jude Allman back into the open and initiates a sequence of events that includes his having visions involving the people around him, re-establishing contact with his estranged father, and rekindling some kind of relationship with, Rachel, the mother of his child. His visions enable him to rescue a pair of children who are being held captive by a local man, but bring down police suspicion that he's involved in a series of child disappearances in the area. Mike Odum, chief of the Red Lodge Police Department, takes a particular interest in "Gress," and starts looking into his background. All the while, Mr. Hines keeps giving us unsettling glimpses into the evil mind of the unnamed man who's hunting children.

The psychotic serial killer stuff can't help but be derivative, but as a frame upon which to hang the rest of the novel is serviceable enough and is, admittedly, quite scary in places. What really works though is the Jude Allman character and the difficulties he has dealing with the supernatural interventions in his life. It is easy enough to believe that any one of us would deal just as badly with the "gift" he's been given.

Likewise effective is the way that Mr. Hines allows the secondary characters--Kristina and Rachel--lead Jude to an acceptance of the idea that he is not just a freak, but part of God's plans for man. He's not preachy and leaves the precise nature of why Jude has been chosen, and for what, ambiguous enough that no reader is likely to be put off. All in all, it's a pretty spectacular debut and Mr. Hines would appear to be an author to watch.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

T. L. Hines Links:
    -BOOK SITE: Waking Lazarus (Bethany House)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One: DROWNING from Waking Lazarus By T. L. Hines
    -BIO: T. L. Hines (Who Dunnit)
    -PROFILE: Billings author resurrects terror, hope (CHRIS RUBICH, 8/06/06, Billings Gazette)
    -INTERVIEW: T.L. Hines (Sean Slagle, 6/30/06)
    -INTERVIEW: with T. L. Hines (Reading, Writing, and... What Else is There?, June 28, 2006)
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with T.L. Hines (Dineen A. Miller, 6/27/06, Kittens come from Eggs)
    -PROFILE: Debut Author Tries Open-Source Publicity (Marcia Ford, 7/19/2006, Publishers Weekly: Religion BookLine)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines (Cheryl Russell, Unseen Worlds)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Kirkus Discoveries)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Tom Duff, Duffbert's Random Musings)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Mary Fairchild,
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Violet Nesdoly, BlogCritics)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Christian Fiction Review)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Jeff Holton, 1340 Mag)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Kevin Holtsberry, Collected Miscellany)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Dreamscapes & Horizons)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Hidden Staircase Mystery Books)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (Nate Kenyon, Horror World Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Waking Lazarus (The Curmudgeon's Rant)

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