Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Dead Saint by Marilyn Brown Oden

book cover

The Dead Saint
by Marilyn Brown Oden

ISBN-13: 9781426708671
Trade Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: April 1, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take:
Bishop Lynn Peterson watches in horror as her good friend, a member of the New Orleans Saints, is shot by a sniper and dies on the streets of New Orleans. Lynn agrees to return the strange medal he wore to his mother in Sarajevo, Bosnia during her upcoming trip there. However, the medal is immediately stolen from her by the man she's sure is the killer...except the police say the killer has been found and is dead.

Then, at an event involving the Vice President, he speaks with her privately. The Vice President asks her to secretly deliver a message during her trip to Bosnia. Someone is tapping Madam President's communications and this will help her uncover which trusted person is listening in and using the information to spread chaos and war.

Lynn agrees to act as a courier and begins a dangerous journey filled with assassinations, bombs, an attempt on her life, and a behind-the-scenes conspiracy that somehow involves an ancient society.

My Review:
The Dead Saint is a political thriller with an anti-war theme. Unfortunately, there's an excess of unnecessary detail that slowed the pace. There were whole scenes that could have been cut and the reader wouldn't have missed them. However, some suspense was created by physical danger to various nice people.

The main characters were interesting. However, the majority of the characters were described in an idealized way or were cliche. Lynn and her husband also seemed too naive and hero-worshiping for their given backgrounds. Lynn also seemed to have a mental illness--something like a split personality--which just struck me as weird. However, she did act intelligently, though realistically, to the unexpectedly dangerous situations she was in.

Though Lynn visited several foreign countries, I didn't get a vivid mental image of the settings or a real feel for the cultures. We got descriptions of a few tourist spots and a generic "war-zone neighborhood." They felt like descriptions you could get off of photographs, though you could tell the author has been through foreign airports.

Lynn was an episcopal bishop whose focus was on social activism for peace and to help the poor. Her theology seemed to consist of frequent centering to find peace, removing "sin" from her vocabulary because it led to feeling guilty, and an occasional prayer to become a better person. She also talked with others about the similarities between religions and how she thinks they're all reaching toward the same God and same goal of self-transformation.

I don't recall any bad language. There was no sex. Overall, the novel wasn't bad, it just wasn't as exciting and engaging as I'd expect of such a plot.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
At 10:17 on Wednesday morning, three minutes before a bullet whizzed through the French Quarter and severed her shelters yesterdays from her sinister tomorrows, Bishop Lynn Peterson sat at her favorite outdoor table at Cafe du Monde. She was incognito behind sunglasses and dressed like a tourist in a teal knit shirt that matched her eyes, khaki walking shorts and sandals, with her black hair swooped up under a straw hat. She'd escaped her office to read over her lecture for the conference in Vienna. No phone calls. No "emergency" appointments. No interruptions. She smiled.

Lynn sipped cafe au lait, resisted the third beignet and listened to the calliope's happy tune drifting from a paddleboat on the river. Nearby a wannabe king of jazz improvised on soprano sax, playing the music like it should've been written. Feet tapped to the beat. She loved to sit here. Loved New Orleans. The city suited her.

She heard Bubba Broussard's laughter resound like a bass solo from half a block away. The six-five, 250-pound ProBowl linebacker for the New Orleans Saints ambled down Decatur Street, green polo shirt stretched over his biceps. Elias Darwish sauntered along beside him, the never-miss place kicker who hailed from Sarajevo and helped turn to "Aints" into the Saints.


Man of la Book said...

Very nice review, too bad the book didn't live up to your expectations. I was excited when I saw the title because I was half expecting for it to be about Leslie Charteris' character Simon Templar from the 20s.

Genre Reviewer said...

Thank you. Yes, it's always disappointing when a book doesn't live up to one's expectations.

The title is a bit deceptive. The book wasn't about the Saints football team or about Christian saints. You could make a case for it being about a political "saint" which died. But, ironically, that character's death wasn't caused by the main plot-thread conspiracy and the people behind his killing were never uncovered. *shrug*