As much as I liked book one in The Corescu Chronicles--"The Judging"--I disliked this second installment twice as much.
"The Judging" was amazingly interesting to me. It worked as a romance, a supernatural thriller, even a mystery. One of the most-compelling ideas to me was that a divinity student would make it his mission to fight for a vampire's salvation. The story was a good one, and it was wonderfully told.
"Damascus Road" picks up where the first book left-off. Maybe. It's hard to tell. Basically, "Damascus Road" consists of one vampire, and an entire universe populated entirely by devout Christians (nb: except for one female cop, a female bookstore clerk, and maybe a stewardess). More than that, it seems half the main characters are either ministers or lay-preachers.
I mean no insult to devout Christians, ministers, or lay-preachers by this statement--I count several among my beloved and trusted friends. However, the elements that made "The Judging" so effective--a compelling story, well-drawn characters, a novel twist on the typical vampire genre--were all missing from "Damascus Road." Here's the plot: Paul the vampire kills people and drinks their blood; two lay-ministers assuage Paul's bloodlust while trying to bring him to Jesus. There are other tiny, vestigial plot elements--the literary equivalent of the human little-toe or appendix--but the greatest portion of this book is nothing but people praying, talking about praying, or thinking about praying. These are noble activities, but painfully boring to read about.
The two most interesting characters in "The Judging"--Hope, and Dr Mark Corescu (the vigilante vampire/doctor)--were mere afterthoughts until the last 50 pages or so. Corescu has moved to Germany, convinced that God wants him to wither and die. Paul the Crazy Vampire and Tony the Lay-Minister set off to Germany to find him. Once Hope is relieved of her extended babysitting chores, and she's allowed to rejoin the story, she hops a plane to Germany as well.
What could have been an interesting climax results in more praying, and the pondering thereof. To make matters worse--as if in addition to a massive headache, I had even one remaining shred of interest left in the story--there was a fatal flaw, a huge mistake, unforgivable in a novel written in 2011. Paul TCV and Tony TL-M are on a trans-Atlantic flight to Germany. Somebody is dying from needing blood. The two characters cram themselves into the airliner's lavatory, and there it is:
"Paul ignored him and without a second thought, pulled the pocket knife out of his slacks with his free hand, popped it open and stuck it into his neck without ceremony." (p. 281)
Seriously??? A pocket knife on a commercial flight???????? The author wrote this a decade after 9/11, and nobody in the editing process caught it?
An error that egregious kills a book's credibility.
I know I'm violating Luke 18:14 "[E]very one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (KJV)
But after "The Judging," I was really looking forward to another interesting, focused novel. Instead...
Do yourself a favor. Avoid this one. If you want to read a good Christian book? Pick something from the New Testament (The Gospel According to St. John is always nice, better written, and has way more action)