4 stars out of 5
If I had to pick two fiction genres that are of virtually no interest to me, it would be religion and romance. So what the devil am I doing with a book like this? Well, it's mostly because I didn't say no: The author asked me to read it and give it a review (and it was available free through my Kindle
Unlimited membership). When I read the basic description - knowing that I do like to take a break from my usual crime/legal/medical thrillers every once in a while - I reckoned there's no time like the present.
There's plenty of religion here, but of course the "love" in the title doesn't refer to your typical smushy-face will-she-put-out-or-not tommyrot. While there is an either-or component, it's two men who claim to be the second coming of Christ. Needless to say, they don't feel the love for each other, with each insisting he's the one telling the truth as he travels around trying to gather followers. So which one is the real deal, and which will emerge triumphant in the battle for souls?
Personally, I wouldn't have been swayed by either one; I do unto others because to me it's the right thing to do, not because I'm trying to earn a place in some afterlife utopia (or, conversely, trying to avoid going to a place with a hell of a reputation). So in that sense, it was virtually impossible for me to relate to either character. On the other hand, if history has taught us anything, it's that it is all too easy for masses of people - particularly those who are unhappy with some or all of their lots in life - to latch blindly onto a charismatic someone who speaks what they want or need to hear. Reading the book with that in mind - combined with awareness that with effective marketing (which includes everything from packaging to public speaking) all things are possible - gave me a different perspective.
The philosophies espoused by the two are easy to understand. One says no one shall have access to the Kingdom of Heaven without unconditionally accepting the returned Savior (thus cutting anyone of a different faith out of the action). The other maintains that the only true Golden Rule is to "Render my creations more holy than whence they were found." Nothing else matters, leaving the Pearly Gates pretty much wide open otherwise.
As the race to the finish heats up - culminating in a political candidate-style debate - a number of interesting characters make an appearance, from an attractive female attorney who specializes in defending nasty folks who deserve to be behind bars to a scraggly homeless man to a gay couple (one of whom earns a more-than-decent living as a political speechwriter). The characters' names, though, are worthy of note: David Shepherd (the speechwriter), Margaret Magdela (the attorney), Thomas Acostes (a reporter), Rev. Philip Pharis and Jabez Gethsemane, to name a few. The biblical associations are obvious, making me smile.
The book isn't very long, but it's not one to be breezed through; everything has a meaning (often, more than one) that's not to be missed. As with the characters' names, humor is interspersed throughout. At one point, I laughed out loud - bringing to mind one of my favorite (and funniest) books of all time, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.
I found less than a handful of grammatical errors, but no more than I typically find in top-selling books these days (the notion of someone "peaking" down a woman's blouse, however, did elicit a giggle). That aside, it's very well written and is, perhaps sadly, an on-the-money commentary of what ails society today. Definitely worth reading!
The Second Coming: A Love Story by Scott Pinsker (Scott Pinsker Publishing, June 2014); 238 pp.