"The Oath," by Frank Peretti (Word, 550 pp.; $23.99, hardcover).

A landscape photographer finds a promising site in the remote Pacific Northwest. While spending time getting to know this pristine setting, he meets up with a local woman. Having traded the ideals of romance for the hard realities of a bad marriage, she sees this stranger as a portal into another, better world. A torrid affair ensues.

Does she run off with the photographer in hopes of greener pastures? Or does she decide that while domestic realities may not be romantic, her place is beside her less-than-adequate husband? Neither. Both she and the photographer get eaten by a dragon.

"Toto, I don't think we are in Madison County anymore."

No, this trip over the rainbow has dropped us into the world of Frank Peretti, the great fundamentalist novelist and the father of blockbuster Christian fiction. Author of "This Present Darkness," "Piercing the Darkness," and "The Prophet" (with combined sales figures in the tens of millions), this former part-time Assemblies of God associate pastor has created an alternative Christian universe where the faithful love to visit.

And why shouldn't we love it here? In a Peretti novel, just as in a John Wayne movie, it's easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. (Tip: Bad guys tend to get called by their last names, good guys by their first.) Our team is made up of tall, strong, courageous guys and a few gals, usually housewives, who are prayer warriors with skirts. The bad guys are creepy, greedy, and sleazy. And they get their butts kicked in the end--by Jesus, of course.

That's pretty much the plot of Peretti's latest thriller, "The Oath." This time John Wayne is Steve Benson, the brother of the eaten photographer ("I just want ...

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