Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Dark Man: A Christian Novel

The Dark Man

by Marc Schooley

The Dark Man is a near-future thriller about a master of disguise working to eradicate Christianity in America. Charles Graves is haunted by his dead brother, his lost mother, and a phantom arising cryptically from a child’s puzzle.

Charles goes undercover to infiltrate one of the last Christian cells in Southern North America, only to discover that someone else is attempting to infiltrate HIM. In a world turned over by oppressive government and a godless society, Charles strives to bring down the last Christian leaders.

But sometimes he who persecutes the Church is destined to serve her.

When I first began to read this novel, I found myself wondering just what kind of book it would be in comparison to the library of fiction that I am used to. After all, it’s not often you find a novel that implements many of the same devices that the general public is familiar with, things such as, making the reader feel great about the position of mankind, his supposed independence and power, and yet manages to subvert those things amicably.

It just goes to prove to an audience that it’s not necessary to always use the same triggers, despite their apparent money making draw, in order to create a work of fiction that is both engrossing and efficacious. And, indeed, The Dark Man is one of those books. A famous writer once said, “The easier it is to read something the more work has been placed into its’ creation.” As a reviewer I get to use college words, as I have done already, but one thing Schooley does is make the reading experience seamless without pandering to verbosity and pedantry. You, know, like I just did. So what the reader is in for is a beautifully written and intelligently formulated story that will entice you into its’ chapters without offense both plot wise and prose wise.

I will say, however, that the audience is indeed Christian, and most obviously Bible Christian, not just religious or sect Christian. What this means is that there is quite a bit of originality to the plotting that one doesn’t usually see in most secular books, in that the good guys are the followers of Christ and they are NOT nut cases. In fact what they are, are real people with a real world problem on their hands working for a bigger cause. This cause is not the same one you see in a lot of other novels who glorify mankind, some of them with the audacity to believe that a battle between a man and Satan can actually be won... just in the nick of time, and all by himself.

You won’t find anything here, but real humanity, hoping and believing in the power of God working unseen in every circumstance as they struggle against those who would force a world to live without God. And let’s face it, that’s original!

The characterization propels the book at first as the personalities and situations are set up for the reader. There is a little bit of weird psychological magic also in revealing the Dark Man as a character whom only the protagonist is familiar with. This hero, Charles Graves, carries the Dark Man around with him in his head as an almost Shakespearean type commentator and antagonistic adviser during much of the action.

The story itself is imbedded with elements in a worldly myriad of sources from The A-Team to James Bond, and this works on the level of familiarity needed to transfer the story to the reader. In its' Orwellian way the story brings the reader into a kind of New World Order organization that Charles Graves works for in a creative and entertaining spy type fashion. And this section of the story is entertaining and clever enough to bring about the set up for the rest of the book in a way that is both complex and yet easy to digest.

Not an easy thing to do if you understand writing.

Oh, but once you have gotten to the meat of this story, it turns into a grand rescue mission you will not soon forget. Chapter after chapter of tense, well written plotting by a superior, literate writer turns what might have been a preachy, heavy handed tome into a brisk and involving thriller. Major plot lines and a few minor ones swirl around and into each other in an exciting and surprisingly understandable way, all dovetailing toward an end you may or may not see coming.

But, just one word about this sort of thing. When I was a kid, I used to play a lot of flag football and I would love to create trick plays on the opposing team, in such a way as to orchestrate a series of plays from first down to fourth down that would get the other players to think in the way I wanted them to. So, say for instance, my team would run a double reverse on first down. Then on second down we would do a short cut back pass. The third down was crucial because we would run the double reverse again, but making it obvious, and the opposing team would think in their minds: “Aha! You’re not going to fool me with that again!” and they would, of course, over pursue. Little did they know that the double reverse was just a smokescreen for the real play we had in mind. Used to work like magic!

I was reminded of those days while reading through the book in that there is a pair of events just like this, and they are handled deftly I must say, in such a way as I was quite fooled by the level of delivery. You will be too, as the writer isn’t just out to entertain you but also to hoodwink you with some clever plotting. I was quite impressed, mostly due to the fact that I had underestimated the abilities of Marc Schooley to give me something I could brag about that was still not secularly written. It CAN be done! Hallelujah!

So what is it about? Well, its’ more action story than it is preachy tome but it still delivers on that promise to be true to its’ roots and its’ audience. In much the same way the book of Ester uses the trappings of the situation surrounding the main character without ever having God himself show up, but you know he is all over it. Agents and spies abound with a few space ship and sci fi ideas thrown in also. They start out one way, rounding up the “resistors” but the main character has an epiphany of Paulian scope and suddenly finds himself at odds with his own organization and assisting the persecuted. The spy versus spy game is afoot. In the meantime, we have real relationships of life, family and love we can all relate to, and there isn’t one angry word spoken throughout. I know.. amazing, huh?

I recommend this book for those who want to see more positive Christian portrayals of both man and his relationship to God, even in a fictional and somewhat hyper reality setting. And also to those who would like something original and different from the usual stuff you have seen in books, movies and TV and you don’t mind a presence of the Almighty on board. All in all a good, positive read and no doubt a ton of work for a talented writer.

Marc Schooley is a Texan, Christian Philosopher, theologian, Bible teacher, speaker, musician, and nascent Christian fiction writer. Join him at

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