What would happen to the world’s religions if you could mechanically reproduce a religious ecstatic state?  Would that be proof positive there really is no God? Or could it be used instead to trigger a dangerous evangelistic state where one madman could literally create an army for God?

Jeffrey Small tackles these ideas in his latest thriller, The Jericho Deception.

Enter Dr, Ethan Lightman: a scientist researcher for Yale University. He has created a machine he calls the LOGOS. This device replicates profound religious experiences in humans. Further research shows that it does weird things to monkeys too, and early testing may show that the LOGOS can drive humans into a form of religious madness as well. Lightman is concerned that his funding may be cut due to the erratic behavior of the monkeys that displayed after being exposed to LOGOS. This causes funding issues and he is worried that the project might be cancelled. During all of this his partner is murdered and the LOGOS is blamed for his death.

In the mean time, Mousa bin Ibrahim Al Muhommad, a humble physician and doting father to his young daughter who are vacationing in Bahrain. He is captured and is taken to a secret underground base in Egypt where he is being used as a pawn to spawn a religious war.

The plot is excellent, the pacing fast and a thriller through and through. However, that was the problem. Unlike Breath of God, which I adored, I found myself growing tired of similar characters and all too familiar plot lines: a brilliant but misunderstood university professor with a dark and brooding past, his beautiful sidekick, the bad super secret spy network bent on creating a world in its own image. I’m not saying the book is bad, or you shouldn’t buy it, please do. It really is a fun read. For me, I found it lacking in the same originality and grit that his first novel held, and because of it I was disappointed.

I don’t think that Small is losing his edge for an instant. He’s a superb writer, and even though I found this latest offering not his best, I’m sure he’ll learn from this book and surprise us with something truly wonderful on his next publication, which, of course, I look forward to.

Recommended.

~reviewed by Patricia Snodgrass

Author: Jeffrey Small
West Hills, 2013
pp. 424, $15.95



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