Prayer

( 3 )

Overview

From New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr comes an amazing departure: an intense psychological thriller, sure to garner even more acclaim for this powerhouse author on the rise.

Gil Martins, an agent with the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Unit in Houston, confronts the violence generated by extremism within our nation’s borders every day. He sees hatred and destruction wrought by every kind of “ism” there is, and the zealots who kill in their names. Until now, he has ...

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Prayer

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Overview

From New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr comes an amazing departure: an intense psychological thriller, sure to garner even more acclaim for this powerhouse author on the rise.

Gil Martins, an agent with the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Unit in Houston, confronts the violence generated by extremism within our nation’s borders every day. He sees hatred and destruction wrought by every kind of “ism” there is, and the zealots who kill in their names. Until now, he has always been a part of the solution—however imperfect—a part of justice. But when Gil discovers he played a key role in wrongly condemning an innocent man to death row, it shakes his faith—in the system, in himself, and in God—deeply. It even estranges him from his wife and son.  

Desperate, Gil offers up a prayer. To know God is there, not through a sign or physical demonstration but through the strength to cope with his ever-growing, ever-creeping doubts.

His problems become more than personal as things heat up in Houston. A serial killer terrorizing the morally righteous turns out to have religious motivations, upping the case from homicide to domestic terrorism. A number of prominent secular icons die or are grievously injured abruptly and under suspicious circumstances, the latest of which is a New Atheist writer who’s fallen into an inexplicable coma. Left and right, it seems Gil can’t escape the power of God and murder.

As Gil investigates both cases, he realizes that there may be a connection—answering his prayers in a most terrifying way. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/24/2014
Edgar-finalist Kerr takes a break from his Bernie Gunther PI series (Prague Fatale, etc.) with this provocative standalone set mainly in present-day Texas. Houston FBI agent Gil Martins usually handles domestic terrorism, but he can’t resist pursuing a case involving the deaths of several prominent atheists around the country in circumstances that seem to rule out foul play, but that also don’t accord with accident or suicide. Martins, who has lost his Catholic faith, faces an uphill battle, persuading his bosses to authorize his probe, but once he’s done so, he finds himself drawn into a complex mystery with highly personal implications. Meanwhile, a serial killer nicknamed St. Peter is targeting do-gooders. Despite references to The Turn of the Screw, the plot owes more to ghost-story writer M.R. James than to Henry. Evocative phrasing (“Dawn crept up onto the edge of the horizon like a thin trail of blood seeping slowly through a dull gray blanket”) is another plus in this exceptional thriller. Agent: Caradoc King, A.P. Watt (U.K.). (May)
Library Journal
03/15/2014
Raised Roman Catholic in his native Scotland, Houston FBI agent Gil Martins is suffering a loss of faith, endangering his marriage to his increasingly evangelistic wife, Ruth. At the same time the Bureau is seeking a serial killer dubbed Saint Peter for the murders of a handful of particularly upstanding, do-gooder residents of the Houston-Galveston area. Then Martins's close friend, retired archbishop Eamon Coogan, alerts him to the mystifying deaths nationwide of prominent people who publicly reject, even ridicule, organized religion. When a woman, just before committing suicide, confesses to killing one of the victims, Martins is drawn further into a life-threatening investigation of the Izrael Church of Good Men and Good Women and its charismatic pastor. VERDICT Kerr is known for writing in, and mixing, various genres, and the moral complexity of his protagonist, World War II homicide detective Bernie Gunther (Man Without Breath), in his praised historical crime series has been noted. Here moral complexity is raised to a new high in a contemporary psychological thriller that is eerily terrifying and disturbing. [See Prepub Alert, 11/10/13.]—Michele Leber, Arlington, VA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-03
In this departure from Kerr's Nazi-era Bernie Gunther series (the Berlin Noir trilogy, etc.), Houston-based FBI agent Gil Martins investigates the mysterious deaths of a group of outspoken atheists. A transplanted Scot, Martins is a lapsed Catholic who curses religion following the execution of a man in whose wrongful conviction he played a part. After his fervently devout wife leaves him over his lack of faith, taking their son, he's even more spiritually adrift—a feeling only intensified by a visit to the massive Izrael Church of Good Men and Good Women near the Johnson Space Center. He's gone there after a female member of the congregation confessed to having killed one of the atheists and jumped to her death—but not before sending Martins a video in which she reveals she was actually a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn writing about Christian nationalism. She joined a cabala-like cult headed by the powerful pastor, who has unusually strong ties to the rabbinical community. The cult, she claims, causes terrible things to happen through the power of prayer. Though there are more convincing fictional portrayals of Houston, Londoner Kerr seems relaxed in this sister city of sorts, and this is one of the more laid-back thrillers in a while. Ultimately, though, that's part of the problem. The story doesn't unfold with enough edge or urgency, and Martins is too bland to make up for that. Plus there's something troubling about Kerr's use of a plot by ex-military types to bomb a local synagogue as a mere warm-up act. Though an interesting change of scenery for the author, the novel fails to distinguish itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399167652
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 103,961
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr is the author of the Bernie Gunther series as well as several dystopian futuristic novels, standalone thrillers, and the young adult series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    PRAYER tells the story of FBI agent Gil Martins as he loses his

    PRAYER tells the story of FBI agent Gil Martins as he loses his faith in God and then how he finally finds it once more. He is not a perfect man, nor is he what one would call one of God's heroes.

    The story begins with Martin finally losing his faith after finding out he helped send an innocent man to death row. As he admits to himself and the world that he has lost his faith, he finally loses his wife who purports to believe in God. She takes his son and moves back with her parents, while telling him to please vacate the premises. When his friend Coogan calls him with a potential new case, he also finds a new place to live in the Galveston area. As he lives here, he finds his faith, finds the killer as well as his chosen profession. In the end, Martin determines that God is not the God we see every day in the media, nor is He the God we hear of in most church sermons. PRAYER is not only a thriller, but serves to remind us that God is real and to be careful for what we ask, as we most often will not like the answer we receive.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2014

    Philip Kerr, well known for his nine volume series featuring pre

    Philip Kerr, well known for his nine volume series featuring pre-war, World War 2 and Cold War detective Bernie Gunther, a German, often tackles ethical and spiritual issues in his detective novels and other works. Prayer offers a Scotland born and U.S. raised Gil Martins working on the domestic terrorism cases for the FBI. Beginning with his Scottish first communion, Martins becomes an angry and skeptical Roman Catholic. Marrying an American evangelical and working in Texas, he encounters an assortment of churches and responds to them with a declaration of atheism. Yet, his closest friend is a Roman Catholic bishop who points him to the possibility of a conspiracy relating to the suspicious deaths of outspoken atheists.

    The possibility of a conspiracy is somewhat confirmed by Martins during his independent investigation and then the FBI, to a very small degree, becomes involved because the deaths occur in several time zones. The stakes are raised because the deaths are not murders but suicides and there is no trace of a killer at the scene of the deaths. Martins' marriage dissolves, his atheism is tested, and Martins comes to grips with the possibility that the evidence is leading him to Old Testament declarations and the possibility that there may be one angel, reserved by God, who carries out judgement.

    Kerr holds Martins' investigations, Christian faiths, atheism in balance in Prayer and the conclusion is sound and satisfying. The close of novel allows this reader to hope that Gil Martins is heard from again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

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