Sin to Get Saved – Michael P. Thomas
Hubert knows he brings shame on himself and on the Lord by being a queer – his grandad and the pastor of his evangelical church tell him as much all the time. So when he dies in a freak accident, he’s as delighted as he is surprised to waltz right through the Pearly Gates, no questions asked. He even gets a beautiful angel named Bartholomew as his very own guide to the Afterlife.
But when the angel makes brazen overtures, Hubert realizes his soul may have taken a wrong turn. Hubert beseeches Bartholomew to keep his hands to himself and help him find his rightful place in the Heaven he’s always heard about. As they set out to explore his options, Bartholomew hopes Hubert will learn a thing or two along the way about the deeply personal definitions of Paradise.
On some AM stations on the radio, I would sometimes catch American preachers sharing the good news and mangling our dialect with their Southern accent as they condemn sinners to perdition. It was pretty amusing to listen to for a while, mostly because of the funny accents, but all these talks about damnation could suck the joy out of a Labrador Retriever. The Reverend Jarvis had been to Southeast Asia and I’m pretty sure he did God’s work while enjoying the exotic delights of the region. You see a lot of old white guys with very young and nubile island girls in these so called paradise islands.
Hubert, poor Hubert was told all his life that he is ugly and sinful because he was a queer. When he finally kicked the bucket by means of a lead pipe to his skull, he was taken to his heaven by his angel Bartholomew. There Hubert struggled to avoid temptation, something he had been doing all his life, in order to get to Reverend Jarvis’ heaven. When Bartholomew pulled some strings and sent Hubert to the reverend’s heaven, he was in for a rude awakening. Hubert realized that all that he was told all his life was a lie.
I felt a mixture of pity and annoyance towards Hubert for being naive, ignorant and innocent. I was so relieved when he finally realized the truth. Coming from a highly religious country, I could definitely relate to how a church can brainwash people into blind, unthinking sheep. The way the author used humor to present the hypocrisy and corruption of some religious leaders was quite effective at highlighting the kind of wordplay these people use to manipulate and control their flock. The opening was worth a few chuckles. However Michael P. Thomas did not condemn the Reverend Jarvis to hell. Instead, he gave Jarvis his own piece of heaven. I liked the idea of non-judgmental Creator and angels. Everybody gets his or her own slice of paradise. I hated the reverend and thought it was unfair he gets his heaven. But that’s me being judgmental and petty and I’m pretty sure equally judgmental and petty individuals will judge me for my own version of heaven.
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
Russ Morgan Mystery: Enigma – Lloyd A. Meeker
Who’s blackmailing the high-profile televangelist whose son was famously cured of his homosexuality fifteen years ago? Now in 2009, that ought to be ancient history.
It seems there’s no secret to protect, no crime, not even a clear demand for money—just four threatening letters using old Enigma songs from the 90′s. But they’ve got Reverend Howard Richardson spooked.
Proudly fifty and unhappily single, gay PI Russ Morgan has made peace with being a psychic empath, and he’s managed to build a decent life since getting sober. As he uncovers obscene secrets shrouded in seeming righteousness he might have to make peace with a sword of justice that cuts the innocent as deeply as the guilty.
I already had an inkling on who’s doing it a quarter through the story but I kept on reading because the secrets unrevealed confirmed what I had always suspect: holier than thou high-profile televangelists are indeed creepy.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it