Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of Robert Browne's The Paradise Prophecy

Author Robert Browne has said “I write thrillers with a twist for people who love a good roller coaster ride.” In his latest book, The Paradise Prophecy, he has succeeded in doing just that. The Paradise Prophecy is a fast-paced thriller, based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. It is the story of two people sent on a search for a serial killer, who might be an angel.

Sebastian “Batty” LaLaurie is a professor of Religious Studies and Rhetoric at Trinity Baptist College in Harrison, Louisiana. Batty, suffering from nightmares, has turned to drink in the two years since his wife’s death. Having expressed his disillusionment with God during one of his lectures, he is placed on leave from the University. Bernadette Callahan is an agent for The Section (a special branch of the State Department) who is sent to Brazil to investigate the death of Gabriela Zuada, a charismatic Christian singer. Ignoring the local detective’s superstitions that Zuada died at the hand of the devil, Callahan is convinced that she is looking for a serial killer with leanings toward the occult. As Batty is an expert in Religious Studies and the Occult, Callahan is put in contact with him, and quickly learns that Batty is more than just an expert on the “other side,” but a survivor of it. Also present in the story is Michael, the Archangel. Michael’s job has been to patrol the earth, keeping the fallen angels from bringing about complete destruction. Michael is no cherub. In fact, he packs a gun and a knife and uses them effectively when needed. Michael’s biggest foe is the fallen angel Belial, a shape shifter who is determined to deliver Earth to her master.

If you’re familiar with the book of Genesis, or have read Milton’s Paradise Lost, you know that they both refer to the story of Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven and his revenge upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Browne’s, The Paradise Prophecy, finds those other angels who were expelled along with Lucifer, living on Earth where for centuries they have been working to create a Hell for Satan. When he is first introduced to Agent Callahan, Batty is naturally curious as to why he has been brought in to assist with the investigation. After being shown a quote from Paradise Lost, and a picture of Zuada (whom he recognizes from his nightmare) Batty is so rattled that he convinces Agent Callahan to take him to the crime scene. Upon entering the room where Zuada died, Batty is shocked, as he has seen another death very similar to this one – namely, his wife’s. And so begins the mystery, as more victims are found and Agent Callahan and Batty are sent to Istanbul `and ultimately Los Angeles for the final showdown between the Archangel Michael and the fallen angels.

Browne lays out the classic themes of good vs. evil, and sin vs. redemption in a taut, nail biter. He keeps the story and character development moving quickly through the words and actions of Batty and Callahan. From the start, Callahan is convinced that the murders are being committed by a human, but as the action develops, she begins to change her views from that of a hardened skeptic to a believer as she witnesses the underworld first hand. Batty also undergoes a transformation as he is forced to sober up and face his demons (literally and figuratively). During the course of the novel, Batty and Callahan develop trust and a comfortable rapport with one another, but continue to create enough opposition to remain interesting. The Paradise Prophecy is a great read for anyone who enjoys suspense and the supernatural.

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