God Visits Damnation Alley

11389138.gifEven though we know that the Kingdom of God can suddenly break into anyone’s life at any time, it comes as a jolt to come across an invasion into the world of the detective novel. But that’s what happens in the third volume of Andrew Klavan’s masterful Weiss/Bishop trilogy, the accurately named, Damnation Alley.

The Present Evil Age is the backdrop for the action of the novels, where forgiveness is unknown, and darkness is fought, not with Christian light, but with greater doses of darkness. Rescue is the name of the action, and even God gets into the act.

 When the Pulitzer Prize winning member of the Berkeley English Department engages a private detective to learn why his daughter has suddenly become distant from him, we expect anything but what the reason turns out to be. Emma Norris, the twenty-year old undergraduate we met in the second volume, Shotgun Alley, is discovered praying at a home church! The detective cannot believe his eyes: the Golden Girl of the Academic Center of Present Evil Age has actually come to believe! No one does that anymore!

But Emma offers her testimony:

“You mean, real people like my father…Well, my father is a very brilliant man, that’s for sure…And he’s always been a man of deep convictions too. When he was younger, he was convinced that Freudian analysis would set us all free. Then he was convinced that communism would save the world, then he amended that to socialism—though I’ve never completely understood the difference. What else was there? Feminism was very big with him about ten years ago. And he’s still into multiculturalism—you know, noble savages and all that. Then there’s the postmodern stuff; I guess that’s the latest—everything’s relative, there’s no truth, words don’t mean anything. And of course atheism—that was always there, that was a given. You couldn’t really have the rest of it without that…One thing I couldn’t help noticing after a while, though? Brilliant as he was, everything my father believed in turned out to be untrue. I mean, people don’t really have Oedipal complexes, not usually anyway, and labor doesn’t actually produce capital. Women are born different from men, some cultures are better than others, and on and on. And then, on top of being wrong all the time, he’s also miserable. Drinks morning to night, hates his marriage, treats my mother like garbage. I sometimes think miserable people shouldn’t be allowed to have philosophies at all, you know. I sometimes think they should have to find happiness first, then at least they can tell us what worked for them. Anyway, the point is, after a while it made me wonder. The fact that all these deep convictions of his turned out to he, you know, just false, made me wonder about the other thing, the God thing. Well, it’s a long story.”

Afraid of losing a job or a friend, of  not being invited to “hip parties” anymore, Emma and her fellow Berkeley Christians must meet secretly to survive socially and economically.

The sad truth is that the secret lives of these fictional academic Christians too closely mirror the reality in higher education today.

Check out Andrew Klavan at his website here.

Comments are disabled for this post