cover image The Churchgoer

The Churchgoer

Patrick Coleman. Harper Perennial, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-286410-9

Mark Haines, the tortured narrator of Coleman’s provocative debut novel, suffered an emotional breakdown after his sister’s suicide. He left his position as youth minister at a fundamentalist church, took to drink, and alienated his family. He now leads a solitary life in Southern California, where he surfs during the day and works nights as a security guard at an industrial complex. Prone to tirades against religion, he also quotes the poet Philip Larkin. When Cindy Liu, an apparently vulnerable and desperate young woman he meets by chance, disappears around the same time a fellow guard is murdered, Haines intuits that a mob of drug and pornography dealers, run by evil, hypocritical Christians, must be to blame. Roused into impulsive, clumsy action, he sets out to find Cindy and his colleague’s killer. Persons of faith will likely feel uncomfortable in Haines’s company. Others, including those who admire Coleman’s poetry collection, Fire Season, will sympathize as his protagonist struggles to achieve some peace of mind. Most readers will be curious to see what the author does next. [em]Agent: Tim Wojcik, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (July) [/em]