I don’t know exactly where to begin this review, which angle to take. I’m reeling. My wife and teenager have been commending Frank Redman‘s Elijah: A Suspense Novel to me for weeks now, and I finally read it. In short, I can say it was amazing, entertaining, chilling, and a punch in the gut in ways for which I was not prepared. Apparently, I am not alone in this regard. My wife remarked to me that with the internet’s instant access to so much information, when one writes about a book, a review is not sufficient. Rather, an encounter would better describe it, where one meets the author, reads the background and influences, and embraces the story and its characters. It certainly is true for our experience with Frank Redman and Elijah.
Frank Redman is a brand new author, whose own journey in the writing profession sounds like something out of a movie. It’s his debut book, so I was thinking it might be something like early C.S. Lewis with a few twists in the manner of Dean Koontz, but it’s that and more.
By the time I got to the end of Elijah, I’d say it’s better than the early C.S. Lewis. This story has the mystique, chilling suspense, and humor of a Christian “Twin Peaks” or a more tightly written That Hideous Strength. It takes you into levels of evil that many of us would rather not know at all, but far too many people actually live through. Many writers depict such evil and either glorify it or give it a worldly punishment, but few provide a sense of hope that there is something better, that victims can still find happiness and holiness. Frank Redman is one of those few writers, and Elijah is a book with a message that needs to be read.
St. Augustine says a work of perfect logic may be true but if it’s boring to read, it won’t do any good, and people are more willing to read and believe something that’s eloquent. The same is true of literature and movies: it doesn’t matter how true it is or how artistically “well crafted” it is. If it doesn’t draw people in, nobody will read it. Hamlet may have psychological and moral depth, but it’s basically a story about murder, ghosts and revenge. Elijah has it all. It immediately drew me in with the supernatural and suspense, has great depth in the character’s dealings with his horrid past, as well as fantastically funny insights with well-crafted characters who open your eyes to the devastating horrors that are hidden in daily life. The reality of evil is tangible, but it’s tempered with hope and perseverance.
At times, the story of an author can sometimes be as compelling as the book the author wrote. This can be an advantage in attracting readers, as it is what led us to Frank Redman and Elijah. My wife and I both became Dean Koontz fans a little over a year ago. She noticed that Koontz has referred a few times to his friend Frank Redman (he dedicated Saint Odd to him and said his struggle with brain cancer inspired Ashley Bell).
Through a series of events that I’ll leave Frank Redman to tell, he began a mentorship with Dean Koontz. Koontz had read some of his writing, saw potential, and agreed to mentor Frank. Then, on the same day that I had my descending aorta surgery, Frank was diagnosed with an extremely rare and extremely lethal brain cancer–most people diagnosed with it are only diagnosed with it posthumously, and if they are diagnosed while alive, they die in days or weeks. Frank is still alive nearly 4 years later. So, with a sense of urgency, I set aside the few dozen “in progress” books I’ve been working on reading for years to read Elijah, reading late into the night, and enjoying it more and more with each swipe of the screen.
People don’t want to acknowledge the reality or enormity of Evil in the world. It’s often hidden, and when it’s revealed, it can be nauseating, horrifying, and seemingly unfathomable. The desire to stick one’s head in the sand is understandable, but unadvised. Even less do people want to acknowledge the reality and enormity of God’s grace. Redman’s Elijah addresses both supernatural phenomenon and their implications in our reality, in an engaging, fast-paced, thriller that will leave you reeling and pondering for weeks.