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In rural North Carolina, two sleepy hamlets have been taken over suddenly by a large, extremely organized community known as Kingdom Come. Certain that they have a cult of unprecedented proportions on their hands, FBI agents attempt to infiltrate it, find its arms cache and bring its leaders to justice. While this setup seems to promise a tense thriller, the novel instead devolves quickly into a paranoid depiction of an America in which the government and media target God-fearing Christians as public enemy number one. Although peppered with suspenseful scenes and blessed with one strong, well-developed female character, the narrative is ultimately dogged by implausibility and poor pacing. Burkett (famous for his personal finance books for Christians) and Bunn (an award-winning Christian novelist) reveal the truth about the community far too early. This at least should give them time to explain the cultish menace they describe in the first pages, but they provide only a partial accounting. The rest of the plot follows a battle between vindictive, ugly, one-dimensional villains (a few of whom do experience redemption, but it is too glibly telegraphed) and protagonists who remain unaccountable for their behavior save that they are simply obeying God's directives. The dialogue between the heroes at the end indicates that Burkett and Bunn plan to write a sequel. One hopes that it will be longer on intrigue and shorter on spiritual thriller clich s. (Jan.)
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