Prayer by Philip Kerr book review - SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

Prayer by Philip Kerr book review

Philip Kerr’s supernatural thriller Prayer takes a while to build, but then hits back hard

Ever said a silent prayer asking God to grant you the winning lottery numbers or give you a sign for the 4.14 from Chepstow? Cheeky little Bruce Almighty-style requests that can cause no harm or offence but indicate a faith of some sort.

Disillusioned Special Agent Gil Martins is having trouble believing, and having always been a religious man, his dwindling faith is cause for concern, not just for him but for his fiercely devout wife, Ruth. Adding fuel to an already smouldering fire, a serial killer dubbed St Peter is on the rampage, leading Gil to ponder that if God does exist, why is such mindless death and destruction allowed?

A non-believer in Houston, Texas is tantamount to a suited and booted Captain James T Kirk at a Star Wars convention, and before he knows it the curtains are twitching and Ruth asks him to leave. Homeless, faithless and confused, Gil finds himself drawn to the bizarre deaths of high-profile atheists; his investigation leads him to Esther, a deranged member of the Izrael Church of Good Men and Good Women, led by the creepily smug Pastor, Nelson Van Der Velden.

Something about Esther’s claims that prayer is the killer convinces Gil to delve deeper, until more people wind up dead and it looks as though he could be the next in line.

You don’t have to be a theologist to get to grips with Prayer; there are an inevitable smattering of Biblical quotes and sermons which, given the theme of the book warrant inclusion. However, they are a tedious addition and can be skimmed over without spoiling the thread.

Despite Prayer being marketed as a supernatural thriller it takes some time to arrive at the juicy stuff, with almost two thirds of the 410 pages plodding along as a very readable Dan Brown-style suspense and intrigue novel. Perseverance pays off though, and by the end you won’t know what’s hit you.