According to Their Deeds
Note: My copy of this book is an "Advance Reading Copy" from the Early Reviewers group. Being basically an unedited manuscript, it is filled with many typos, grammatical errors, and a few minor rough spots which will no doubt be corrected by the time the book is published. This will be the only mention I make of such errors, and they will not factor into the rest of my review.Let me start by saying that I was quite eager to read this book. Though I don't read many mysteries/thrillers, the plot grabbed my attention from the start. And overall, I was very pleased. After reading that the author owned a Christian bookstore (and reading the quote from Revelation which opens the book), I was a bit worried that I had stumbled upon a piece of Christian lit, something in which I am not interested. Thankfully, my apprehensions proved to be unwarranted.The book proceeds for the most part with no big surprises, and at its worst it can be predictable and a little clichéd. But Paul Roberson proves himself to be a clever wordsmith, and there are about a dozen lines in this book which are real gems, the type which will cause you to stop reading simply to have time to enjoy what you just read. The downside of this is that Robertson some idea of how clever he can be, and he overdoes it a little. For example, his antique book dealer has a knack throughout the novel for selling works the plots of which correspond surprisingly well with what has just happened (or is about to happen). Both the author and his characters tend to be just a little too pleased with how witty they are.Perhaps the biggest problem that the book has is that there simply are not many likable characters, and those who are are minor characters. Aside from Dorothy and Alice I didn't find myself sympathizing with any of the characters, or for that matter caring much what happened to them. Angelo had some promise, but we never do learn enough about him; at the end of the book, he's still a complete mystery. Judging by this book, as I haven't read his others, Robertson's greatest weakness as a writer is writing prolonged stretches of dialogue between characters. In these situations he tries to out-wit himself, to the detriment of the dialogue, which ends up clunky and awkward, and occasionally confusing.All that being said, this book is immensely pleasurable. This no doubt goes doubly for bibliophiles, but it should be quite a bit of fun for just about anyone. Usually with these types of books not only does the author resort to some supernatural plot twist to resolve the story, but any halfway intelligent reader sees everything coming from a mile away. While the plot here can sometimes be formulaic, the author never telegraphs any of the important scenes, so you don't experience the letdown of figuring out how the story will play out halfway through the book. This is an intelligent, humorous mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.