cover image The Ordained

The Ordained

Terence Faherty. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-16958-9

Itinerant sleuth Owen Keane's life has taken some abrupt turns in five previous novels (The Lost Keats, Deadstick, etc.), which have chronicled a believable life odyssey and delivered a handful of satisfying mysteries. He's lost his religious faith, his girl and most of his more loving impulses. Now Owen is in Indiana to testify at the parole hearing for convicted killer Curtis Morell--to make sure the parole doesn't happen. Owen runs into Morell's daughter Krystal, the local doctor in Rapture, a town founded by a religious sect which, a century and a half ago, held its breath for a Second Coming. Waiting in vain, most of the faithful remained in Rapture, devoting their lives to making ornately artistic coffins. Now, after an older woman and then a young man vanish, followed by Krystal herself, many see signs of urgent summonses from God. A local woman even claims to see lights in the sky. But the Rapture cops and Steve Fallon, a DEA official, have a more earthly explanation for the lights: drug planes are descending on Rapture. Is there a new kind of ecstasy to be found in this sleepy town? Without credentials, Owen functions on the fringe of the investigation. He talks to the chilling Morell and gets shot down flying shotgun in a small plane. He takes to Krystal and clashes with Fallon. He scoffs at the notion that aliens are flashing lights but accepts the dignity with which the believers once waited for their miracle of deliverance. He's an odd bird in an equally odd series, one that is consistently low-key, gently thoughtful and enlightening. (Dec.)