Monday, March 21, 2011

Day One of CSFFBT of "The Resurrection", by Mike Duran

I enjoyed prolific blogger Mike Duran's debut novel.   I really did.   May not seem that way through the next few paragraphs, but bear with me and you'll see how MUCH I really liked it.

For the most part, The Resurrection sports the standard props you'd expect from a supernatural/religious thriller, be it published by a secular or Christian house.  There's the jaded pastor who's faith has been weakened by personal tragedy, and he now questions everything he's learned about God.

There's the simple, dedicated congregation member who has become an unwitting ...and maybe unwilling...tool of the Divine.  Then there's her husband, who abandoned church about a year ago because of his own past disappointments.

There's a conflicted church run by a board that, at the very least is materialistic and worldly, at the very worst corrupt.   A town infested by pagan influences, with the appropriately bizarre, strangely dressed and scowly Wiccan/Goth types running everything from weirdo art galleries to cleverly named taverns to magic shops.

There's even a moderately autistic child in the congregation who - as bestowed by her handicap - may or may not be gifted with foresight, though she plays a relatively minor role in the novel.

That having been said...The Resurrection is a solid, well-written, enjoyable thriller. There's no question about Duran's craft.  Don't mean to be a sour-puss, but historically that's something that isn't necessarily a given in the CBA (Christian Bookseller Association).  He never loses control of his story; takes a familiar plot and keeps it engaging.  The characters are believable, and the story moves well.

My favorite part about The Resurrection? Believe it or not, the loose ends left unexplained (being purposely vague here to avoid spoilers) at the end.  A major fault in the majority of the CBA novels I've read is the propensity or need to explain EVERYTHING so that by the novel's end, troubling and possibly even controversial issues are packaged doctrinally in way that's appealing and reassuring to general Christian audiences.

But there's no mystery.  No wonderment.   Very little "What if...."

Duran leaves a few things unexplained.  One major thing in particular, and it serves the work so very well.   Because it shows that for Duran, quality storytelling and suspense is a priority.  And it also speaks volumes for Realms and their publishing future that they would allow him that freedom.