Every now and again, I read a book that makes me sit up and go "Wow!" Madman by Tracy Groot is such a book.
In my sometimes despairing search for a well-written Christian book, I was told to read Groot. Seldom have I received better advice.
When I read a book, I plunge right in, reading uncritically and eagerly. Bad writing jerks me out of my happy abandon and I start getting grumpy. If it's really bad, I give up. (It took me several tries and clenched-jaw determination to force myself throughThe DaVinci Code, for example.) In the case of Madman, I surfaced for air after a couple of chapters with a startled feeling of well-being thinking, "Did that ever slide down nicely!" Sort of like the reaction you'd have when walking into an unknown Mom-and-Pop restaurant and finding yourself eating a gourmet meal that could make a food columnist weep.
Groot's clear, elegant prose goes down like a particularly good cup of premium-blend coffee, rich and satisfying, but not at all precious. The story, with all its potential for melodrama and bathos, is told with restraint and compassion, despite the presence of many elements common to thrillers and horror stories. For this is the story of the madman of Gerasene, a demon-possessed man delivered by Jesus at the cost of a herd of pigs. It is told from the viewpoint of Tallis, an Athenian playwright, philosopher and servant of a philosopher, sent to investigate what has happened to a satellite academy set up by his master. Upon finding out that it has mysteriously dissolved and that one of the teachers is now a madman roaming the tombs of the Decapolis, he feels compelled to try and help. Groot handles the story with deft skill, making this a very difficult book to put down. (Jesus himself, by the way, puts in only a very brief and discreet appearance.)
Elegance of style, sophistication of thought, and a rip-roaring good story. It doesn't get any better than that.
Well, actually, it does. It also has one of the best covers I have seen on a book in a long, long time.
Five stars for this one. Take a good look. I don't hand out five very often.
* This is another flashback review. It appeared several years ago on my previous blog.