by A.L. Shields
Thomas Nelson Publishers
From A. L. Shields---pseudonym for New York Times best-selling author Stephen L. Carter---comes a thrilling new series about a secret war between the forces of faith and those who would destroy it.
In the first volume, small-town lawyer Bethany Barclay, struggling to piece together the final months of her best friend's life, becomes the pawn of both sides. One group focused on destroying all religion. One group struggling to preserve the church. One woman searching for the truth. The evidence is against her. The FBI is right behind her. A malevolent killer has her in his sights. And as Bethany digs deeper into a complex web of lies surrounding her ties to the murder of her client's son, she remains unaware of the real battle in front of her. She thinks her friend Annabelle was killed because of what she learned about a rumored first-century Christian artifact. What Bethany doesn't know is that Annabelle died in the crossfire between two shadowy organizations that have been doing battle for centuries.
The Wilderness, wealthy and vast, is dedicated to the destruction of all religious faith. The Garden, a group of seven members led by a man they call the Builder, carries on a grim, secret struggle to protect the church. Only a few in the Garden realize that there's more at stake than the artifact the Wilderness is seeking. But as Bethany discovers that she's a tiny part of a larger war, can she trust the Builder to save her? Or will he sacrifice her for the sake of the cause?
This can definitely be classified as a religious thriller. That said, this was a stay up all night sort of book. The mystery surrounding the Wilderness and the Garden was an intriguing plot, and the characters were constantly moving. Both sides are invariably clashing heads over their differences in opinion, but as Bethany discovers there is more at stake than a simple rumor over a first-century Christian artifact and the death of her friend, Annabelle.
Bethany's struggles with being tied to both sides of the conflict was actually really interesting for me, because she was invariably playing both sides. But with knowledge comes responsibility, and once she knows the truth there is a heavy price to pay. The crossroads between whether to obey or sacrifice was a hard one, but in the end she makes the only decision she feels is right. A recommended read if you are able to stay up till the last page - as this is a page-turner in ever sense of the word.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.