When Sally Reiser joined the mysterious network, she did so to protect her handicapped child. But the network that kept them safe has been infiltrated, its communications disrupted, trust compromised, and people replaced with invisible agents. The organization has taken up a sinister new purpose, to murder Sally, the seer of God, and also her eight-year-old autistic son. How far and fast will this mother run to escape a fate fueled by fanaticism and decreed a thousand years before she was bom? With her academic boyfriend Gary LaMonte, Sally flees across Europe, uncertain how to set right her life or keep her son from the grasp of killers. To steer through her trials, she must forge new alliances, repudiate old convictions, and trust in powers beyond Man's comprehension.
In this sequel to Last Days and Times, Stephan Michael Loy paints an intense picture of power gone mad. A fantasy thriller traversing the world from Lake Michigan to the deserts of Israel, Redemption Song is a fast-paced, gripping tale of soldiers and terrorists, philosophers and sociopaths, of angels and monsters. Sally Reiser is blessed -- or cursed -- to see the works of God, no matter how beautiful or terrible. But can she see her way from darkness to light and bring with her the people she loves?
Redemption Song. Book two in Last Days and Times. Book three in the Nightwatch series.
by Stephan Michael Loy
THE SHORT OF IT:
Sally Reiser isn't your everyday girl. She's the seer of God, blessed (or cursed) to witness all the works of God, no matter how beautiful or terrible. There are many who would kill her because of that power, enemies of God who hide in shadows. But Sally has an ally in the mysterious, unnamed network, an international union of vigilante warriors arrayed against religious zealots of all stripes. When Sally Reiser joined the network, she did so to protect her handicapped child, targeted by those who would get to her through him. But the network that kept them safe has been infiltrated, its communications disrupted, trust compromised, and people replaced with invisible agents. The organization has taken up a sinister new purpose, to murder Sally and her eight-year-old autistic son, then spark conflagration in the always tense Middle East. How far and fast will this mother run to escape a fate fueled by religious fanaticism and decreed a thousand years before she was born? With her academic boyfriend Gary LaMonte, Sally flees across Europe, uncertain how to set right her life or keep her son from the grasp of killers. Then there's the problem of heading off war in the most dangerous region on Earth. But how can Sally keep the world from burning when she can't keep herself from harm? To steer through her trials, she must forge new alliances, repudiate old convictions, and trust in powers beyond Man's comprehension.
THE LONG OF IT:
In Last Days and Times, Sally Reiser, disaffected Jew and hardly-coping abused single mother, discovers that she is the seer of God. Her family has been designated to see the works of God, no matter how beautiful or terrible, and she is the last in her family's line. But Sally doesn't want this weighty responsibility. She sees God as the source of hardship in her life. He is the reason she has attempted suicide on more than one occasion, the reason she has made such terrible choices in men, the reason why her son Eulie was born palsied, autistic, and mentally retarded. Sally has no love of God.
Then Gary LaMonte enters her life, a struggling graduate student in religious studies consulting with the state's attorney general on the recent rise in religion-based felony crime. Gary proves to be everything Sally wants in a man, honest, caring, solicitous, and responsible. And he cares a great deal for her son. Gary and Sally are on their way toward a fulfilling relationship when FBI agent Rosa Vasquez pushes into their lives with dire news of religious terrorism on American soil.
Gary and Sally become embroiled in a world-spanning game of life-or-death chessmanship against a powerful and startling enemy, a wealthy radio evangelist who is secretly a two-thousand-year-old Roman legate forced by Jesus Christ himself to live unaging until the end times. This man, Arthur Davidson, has long since tired of living and attempts an insane plan to bring about the apocalyptic prophecies of the Bible in order to hasten Judgment Day and gain the peace of death. In the end, Sally, aided by a secretive anti-terrorist organization known only as the network, plays a pivotal role in defeating Davidson's plans to obliterate civilization. Davidson's organization is destroyed and the immortal himself sinks to the bottom of Lake Michigan, his body riddled with bullets.
Eighteen months later, Sally, Gary, and Rose are part of the network, cleaning up the last of Davidson's organization and arresting the plans of other religious fanatics. Sally is kidnapped from her safehouse in London. The network exposes most of its european operations in a frenetic drive to get her back. When they do, they learn that something new has entered the game, something with the ability to pervert the laws of reality to destructive ends. In the process, a new enemy, the ancient order of the Knights Templar, thought to be disbanded a thousand years ago, emerges to contest the network. The Templars disrupt network operations and communications and replace key network operatives with their own hostile agents. Their mission: kill Sally Reiser and her eight-year-old son Eulie to ensure no seer lives to discover their larger plans.
But Sally has more allies than she knows. As she flees across Europe to avoid death at Templar hands, she is taken in by the Vatican, which shelters her and her friends while they decide what to do about the Templars. She also finds sanctuary with three angel-like immortals who have chosen to live outside the mainstream of humanity, to watch and witness, but not to act. Lastly, Davidson returns from the deeps, hauled from Lake Michigan by the remnants of his followers. Will he exact vengeance for his defeat, or has he learned his lesson? Sally must manage all of these new agents in her life. She must not be owned by them, nor destroyed by them. She must find her own path through blood, fear, and betrayal, but then she was born to see that path. She needs only the wisdom to choose it.
In this sequel to Last Days and Times, Stephan Michael Loy paints an intense picture of power gone mad. A fantasy thriller traversing the world from Lake Michigan to the deserts of Israel, Redemption Song is a fast-paced, gripping tale of soldiers and terrorists, philosophers and sociopaths, of angels and monsters. Sally Reiser must see the works of God. But can she see her way from darkness to light and bring with her the people she loves?
Redemption Song. Book two in Last Days and Times. Book three in the Nightwatch series
The characters of Redemption Song are a dynamic gathering of personalities created to communicate the theme of faith as a means of shaping our world. All men are weak, all men are sinners, but all men, regardless of their actions, can find redemption in the midst of contrition.
Sally Reiser is the primary character in Last Days and Times and Redemption Song. She is a twenty-something-year old struggling woman, a disaffected Jew, formerly a writer for supermarket tabloid newspapers (the kind filled with space aliens, predictions by Nostradamus, and Bigfoot). Sally is also mother to an eight-year-old mentally and physically handicapped boy whom she loves and defends with great passion. She blames God for her son's afflictions. How could the God her parents introduced her to strike down a baby to punish his mother? For Sally feels she is worthy of punishment. She comes out of an abusive marriage to a sadistic, fanatical, fundamentalist Christian, one who saw her as stained in blood for her heritage as a Jew. She escaped that man only to fall into more such relationships, each worse than the one before. But she's tried to turn her life around, living only for her little boy's sake. Little does she know how difficult that will be, for Sally is descended from a line of Jews blessed to see the work of God in all its beauty and horror. She cannot escape this destiny; it stalks her like a predator.
Gary started out a poor, black man from a terrible neighborhood, but has faith that his struggles are lessons from God. Gary is a graduate student in Comparative Religion at a local city college, an academic expert in post-millennial hysteria. He met Sally as part of his research, as she was the acknowledged local expert in "fringe religious wackos". Despite a rough first meeting. Gary finds himself falling deeply in love with Sally. He becomes an anchor for her, a Christian who respects her and deserves respect himself. Now he follows her across continents, dedicated to this woman he loves and the mission from God that drives her. In the end, though, Gary has not changed despite the rigors of his new life. He’s an academic. He's out of place in a world of guns and violence, and it shows.
Eulie is Sally's eight-year-old handicapped son. Struck from birth with autism and cerebral palsy, this little boy is ill-equipped to survive on his own in Sally's dangerous world. Or so everyone thinks until it becomes evident that Eulie may be exhibiting talents that may outstrip those of even his mother.
An ex-FBI anti-terrorism agent. Vasquez is tied by fate to the rising or falling star of Sally Reiser. A devout Catholic, Vasquez took an act of contrition for a vile crime she committed in desperation. That payment for forgiveness in the eyes of her God: protect Sally Reiser. Vasquez has leaned into that commitment though her presence has always been a source of contention. Sally feels inadequate around the beautiful, accomplished, athletic former policeman and is always suspicious that Gary might feel attracted to such a prize. Now. however, a new conflict needles at Vasquez, the possibility that God has another mission for her, one that could take her away from the woman she has guarded for almost two years.
Arthur Davidson is a dead man destined to live forever. Once a wealthy radio evangelist, he is semi-secretly a two thousand-year-old official of the Roman empire, a man who found himself blessed (or cursed!) with eternal life when he once came in contact with Jesus Christ. But immortality has not sat well with Davidson. In an attempt to end his existence, he attempted nuclear terrorism against multiple cities in the United States. His mad plot was foiled by Sally Reiser and the mysterious network that accompanies her. Davidson found himself riddled with bullets and at the bottom of Lake Michigan. For a year and a half. An exile to constant drowning, eaten by fishes, does a lot to change a man. Does Davidson the immortal, enemy to everyone, come out of that ordeal contrite and illuminated, or does he exact iron vengeance on those who made him suffer?
Often more of a driving force behind events than a flesh and blood character, Bennington runs the worldwide network that defends Sally and Gary and takes the fight to their enemies. Bennington's network was indispensible in the defeat of Arthur Davidson. Now it roots out the last of his followers and directs its attention to other fanatics the world over. The network has no government affiliations. It is a ghost that functions outside of law and Bennington is its ultimate dictator. This is a circumstance that brings both comfort and unease to Sally’s existence. Though Bennington’s power seems directed toward her benefit, who can tell when that relationship will turn sour? And, in that event, can Sally survive the aftermath?
A minor character in Last Days and Times, Wendy has become a vital if near-uncontrollable force in Redemption Song. This British super agent dedicated to John Bennington's network has spent the last year and a half running the European cells and bringing Sally and Gary up to skill for network operations. Together, the three have eliminated much of Davidson's remaining terrorist group and have taken the network's war to other fanatical organizations. Now Sally has been kidnapped and Carlisle races across the continent to outrun and outwit those who would do her harm. Along the way, we learn more about this enigmatic soldier, such a mystery from the previous book. We learn why she joined the network and why she seems so well equipped to lead it.
Unlike the other players in this drama. Odom wants no part of either saving or destroying the world. He just wants to pay his rent with a little left over for Cheetos and beer. An everyman caught in extraordinary circumstances, Odom struggles to maintain normalcy in a fantastic world. Failing that, he tries desperately to hide in the background and let the giants fight among themselves. This hardly works. No matter his intentions, Odom forever finds himself thrust into the center of conflict, unsure how to get out.
Click the PDF files below to enjoy five chapters from REDEMPTION SONG. These excerpts introduce the basic conflict and the primary characters. They do not get into the more supernatural aspects of the story (No spoilers!). You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
The story begins with a flash of gunpowder as GARY LAMONTE and WENDY CARLISLE give chase to terrorists who have kidnapped SALLY REISER.
Jeffrey Odom, unmotivated day worker and all-around slob, has taken a job on a fishing boat on Lake Michigan. Now he discoveres that his employers seek not fresh water lake fish, but a more sinister, secretive catch.
Sally confronts her lead kidnapper and he has torture on the agenda.
Nothing speaks more to the worth of a book than the acclamations of those who’ve read it. Here are some of the comments offered by readers after their experience with REDEMPTION SONG.
Redemption Song is an engrossing supernatural thriller with action, suspense, a hint of romance, and a dash of critique regarding the political exploitation of apocalypticism. The characters are diverse and distinct, and the action proceeds organically and plausibly within the story's supernatural premises. Also, it has a nice inclusive message without beating anyone over the head with it—the blonde Jewish protagonist has a black boyfriend and an austistic son. So it's not the story of two sexy WASPs having increasingly adventurous sex four times and defeating Satan in Armageddon. And that's refreshing. In fact there's no Satan in the book at all, to the best of my knowledge. But watch out for Armageddon at the end!
Long Version (for people who like long-winded blowhards):
I recently read two supernatural thrillers: Redemption Song by Stephan Loy and The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. Redemption Song was the superior story of the two, for a number of reasons.
1. Redemption Song was less formulaic than the the other book. When reading Redemption Song, I did not think, "Oh.this is the scene where the writer establishes this ability, which will come into play later. That there is the scene where the author inserts this motivation." Loy has written a story where the characters interact with each other organically. They're not cardboard cutouts hitting plot points at regular intervals.
2. Redemption Song's supernatural events were less silly than the other book. Both books employed biblical justifications for some of the action. Loy did a better job than Rollins and Cantrell of grounding his story in the real world and making his supernatural events seem internally logical. As a former graduate-level student of religion, I appreciated Loy's plot twists where I could say, "Yeah. I can see where someone could get that from the Bible."
3. Loy's characters were more lifelike than Rollins's and Cantrell’s. In Blood Gospel, you've got the three crazy-attractive main characters all ogling each other in the midst of life-and-death situations. The cliched incipient attraction triangle was an obvious cliche aimed at a particular target audience, and it wasn't executed with any subtlety whatsoever. Loy’s characters in Redemption Song behaved more realistically. There is romance and attraction in Redemption Song-actually, there are two pairings-but it develops much more realistically than what occurred in the other book.
4.1 personally found Loy's action scenes more compelling and realistically depicted than Rollins/Cantrell's. They both employed military squads in combat, but Loy’s scenes felt more authentic. I'm not talking about the supernatural threats. I'm talking about the actions taken by the military squads in response to whatever threats they encounter.
5. Redemption Song was more of a complete story. When I got to the end of Blood Gospel, there were lots of unresolved issues. It was clearly designed to hook a reader into reading a series. It was a marketing ploy, in my opinion. Redemption Song told a story about a set of characters that Loy wanted to tell. He left several clear clues that he intends to tell more about the exploits of his protagonists, but I didn't feel like I'd wasted my time at the end of the book reading the first installment of a much longer story I never intend to delve further into. I feel like if I never read another book about Sarah Reiser and Gary Lamonte, the story I read in Redemption Song was complete. At the same time. I'm more likely to read Loy's future installments because he's not just trying to string me along and get me to read the whole series. He rewarded my interest in this one tale.
6. The cast of characters in Redemption Song didn't make me roll my eyes. At the beginning of Blood Gospel, the instigating event occurs in Israel. An American archaeologist and an American soldier are specially chosen to investigate a newly uncovered crypt in the fortress of Masada. WHAT?? Why would the Israelis pick an American archaeologist? There are TONS of great Arab and Israeli archaeologists in Israel. And why would they pick an American soldier? The Israelis don't have anyone who can compare to US military forensics experts? Give me a break. Loy's utilization of Americans in an international cast seemed much more organic and much less arbitrary, unlikely, and arrogant to me.