Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing Saint by Zachary Bartels

Rising mega-pastor Parker Saint was wrapped up in his ratings and his book deal. But that was before the cops and the serial killer, the Vatican operatives, and the centuries-old plot to conceal an ancient relic. Now he's just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is an up-and-coming superstar pastor on the verge of achieving everything he's wanted--including a national TV program and major book deal. His success seems all but guaranteed until an angry incident with a flight attendant. To keep his growing empire from collapsing, Parker cuts a deal and agrees to serve as a police consultant on the trail of a twisted serial killer who marks his victims with religious symbols. The problem is, Parker's anything but an expert, faking his way through the investigation by slipping away to consult his smart phone.

As he is drawn deeper into a web of intrigue involving an obsessive and demanding detective, a trio of relentless Vatican operatives, a string of botched exorcisms, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, Parker finds himself questioning everything he has been trying so hard to protect.

Building to an intense climax, "Playing Saint" is a timely exploration of what compels us, what defines us, and what redeems us. With its combination of suspense, humor, and intriguing characters, it will captivate readers until the final twist.

My review:
  I have been interested in reading this book ever since I saw a blurb about it a few months back. Even though it is a new author with his debut novel, it sounded good enough that I was going to buy it. Then I got a chance to review it, so of course I grabbed it.

  This book is not for  the faint of heart. Even though the author doesn't get overly graphic, there are a lot of crime scene descriptions in the book. And although he doesn't get too descriptive with it, the issue of demon possession is covered a lot in the book.

  It is a very suspenseful and exciting read. I had a hard time putting it down, and read through it in one sitting, and if I still chewed my fingernails, I'd have been doing it. This book is a nail biter. And worth every minute I spent reading it.

  I found nothing in the book to dislike. I wasn't too crazy about the main character, Parker Saint, one of those fake preachers who are all about show, but by the time the book ended, had come to like him. I loved the armed priests in the book and thought they added a lot to the story. And I really liked the double play on words with the title. I can't give any spoilers away, but the title is pure genius. 

  An interesting idea was approached in the book. There is a Scripture verse that talks about demons coming out of a person, and if they don't stay true to God, the demons coming back with seven times as many demons. I don't think it is possible in real life, but one of the characters in the book would have demons cast out of him over and over just so he could get more back later. It did show how real demon possession is, and that it is nothing to mess around with, and also that if someone is trying to cast demons out, they had better have their heart right with God.

  The book did have a twist that totally surprised me, which I enjoyed. If a book is too predictable, it isn't as fun to read. And this one was fun to read. I highly recommend it. This is an author to watch.

About the author:

An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary Bartels has been serving as pastor ofJudson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for nearly ten years. He earned his BA in world religions from Cornerstone University and his Masters of Divinity from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

Check out his website at

Playing Saint is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.