by Alton L. Gansky

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Young Toby Matthews, eight years old, undeniably has miraculous powers. But where did they come from, and how did Toby become the center of a new cult?

Patients in a hospital ward are instantly healed.

A killer tornado is stopped in its tracks.

A dying businessman is cured of cancer.

Undeniable miracles are following a rusty station wagon on its journey

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Young Toby Matthews, eight years old, undeniably has miraculous powers. But where did they come from, and how did Toby become the center of a new cult?

Patients in a hospital ward are instantly healed.

A killer tornado is stopped in its tracks.

A dying businessman is cured of cancer.

Undeniable miracles are following a rusty station wagon on its journey west. But the person behind them is no charismatic religious figure. He's the six-year-old son of a poor single mother and the possessor of a gift he can't explain. To multitudes, however, Toby Matthews is about to become a New Age messiah—and to unscrupulous opportunists, a ticket to undreamed-of wealth.

But one person besides his young mother will see Toby for who he really is. Thomas York, a gifted but searching divinity student, finds in Toby a kindred spirit—brilliant, intuitive, hungry for truth. And as an evil beyond their comprehension unfolds, Truth will become their only weapon against a terrifying enemy unseen by all except Toby.

A taut supernatural thriller, The Prodigy probes the influence of the invisible realm on the world around us and the indomitable power of the Light that shines in the darkness.

Author Biography: Alton Gansky is senior pastor of High Desert Baptist Church in Phelan in the California desert and is the author of The Prodigy and of A Ship Possessed and Vanished, both in the J. D. Stanton mystery series. He and his wife, Becky, have three children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Demons, greed, and theological questions about wondrous healings and miracles intermingle in this chilling tale of suspense. Gansky, a clergyman who most recently wrote Distant Memory, combines a flair for atmosphere with supernatural events that will raise a few goose bumps for fanciers of Christian mystery and suspense. In a lonely cabin in the hills of North Carolina, an unwed teenage mother gives birth to a son, Toby. The tension builds as he evinces an unusual intelligence that belies his heredity and environment. Strange things occur when he is six years old, Toby walks down a hospital corridor, and patients are suddenly healed; he speaks to a tornado, which dissipates; he diagnoses physical and mental ailments with just a glance. It's not long before a popular radio talk-show host seizes on Toby as a potential gold mine, and things spin out of control as the boy is cast as a Messiah figure. Despite the intriguing story line, there are some glitches and occasional clich s. Toby's mother is transformed from hillbilly to polished sophisticate in only a year and a half, which is a bit of a stretch, although Gansky is careful to note that she still shows traces of her previous life. The novel disintegrates slightly in its second half, ending with a predictable showdown between the villains and the good guys. Despite these flaws, however, Gansky's credible thriller should gain him some new fans. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Six-year-old Toby Matthews is a prodigy. He intuitively grasps the way things work and constantly amazes his mother, Mary. Her problems start when she takes Toby to the hospital after his finger is smashed in a car door. The doctor is stunned at how quickly Toby's finger seems to be healing, and when Mary takes her son and slips out through a patient wing, Toby heals the sick people just by walking down a hallway. This "miracle" brings the boy to the attention of Richard Wellman, an unscrupulous radio host who sees Toby as a New Age "Messiah" and his ticket to money and power, and Thomas York, a divinity student who sees God as a philosophical challenge and Toby as a case study. As a supernatural creature stalks Toby, Thomas discovers the depths of a faith he didn't know he had as he teaches Toby about Jesus and the Bible. Gansky's J.D. Stanton mysteries (A Ship Possessed, Vanished) offer a more spine-tingling, terrifying journey into the supernatural aspects of the Bible, but The Prodigy will appeal to readers awaiting the next Frank Peretti. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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The Prodigy

By Alton Gansky


Copyright © 2001 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-23556-1

Chapter One

July 14, 2002 Jefferson City, Missouri

I didn't know what to do," Mary Matthews said. "The wind jus' come up and closed the car door on his hand."

"Ouch," the doctor said, grimacing. He was a tall, thin man with gray hair cut near the scalp. Mary judged him to be in his late forties. She also noted that he had kind eyes. A plastic name tag on the breast pocket of his white smock read: Robert Baker, M.D. "When did this happen?"

Mary looked at the clock on the wall. "About one o'clock. We waited in the lobby for two hours."

"I'm sorry you had to wait. Sometimes there are too many patients and too few doctors. Let's take a look at that hand."

Toby Matthews sat on the emergency room bed and let his feet dangle, banging his worn and dirty tennis shoes against the bed's metal side. The shoes embarrassed Mary. The soles were thin and each had a hole through which Toby's dirty socks could be seen. The Levis he wore were no better; faded and frayed at the cuffs, they were a size too small. Their clothes were billboards of poverty. She would soon have to find a way to buy him another pair of pants and sneakers. That meant finding another thrift shop and finding a few more dollars.

Toby was more interested in the medical equipment than the doctor. He was holding his left hand close to his chest. His blue eyes darted around the room. The doctor had to ask twice to see the boy's hand.

"It's all right," Dr. Baker said. "I'll try not to hurt you."

Toby held out his hand. It was red with an angry, puffy bruise along the back.

"How old are you, Toby?" the doctor asked.


"Six a-goin' on forty," Mary added.

Dr. Baker smiled politely then asked, "Can you move your fingers for me?"

Toby looked at his hand and tilted his head to the side. It was as if he were seeing the injury for the first time. Slowly, he moved his index and middle finger, but only slightly. He grimaced as he did. "It hurts."

"I bet it does." Baker palpated the swollen tissue, gently pressing the skin with his thumbs. "I think we had better get an X ray. There may be a fracture of one or more of the metacarpi. I'm going to have a nurse take him down to radiology."

"Meta ... carpi?" Toby said the syllables as if he were rolling them on his tongue.

"That's right, son." The doctor looked up at him. Toby gave him a questioning look. The doctor held up his own hand and pointed to the back of it. He ran a finger from his wrist to his knuckles. "These bones are called metacarpus. They connect the wrist to the fingers. They help you move your hand." The doctor made a fist.

"You said metacarpi," Toby said.

"That's right, I did. You're a sharp rascal, aren't you? Metacarpi is the plural of metacarpus. Do you know what the word plural means?"

"More than one," Toby answered without hesitation.

"Right again." Once more the doctor raised his own hand. "One metacarpus; five metacarpi."

Toby pressed his lips together and nodded.

The doctor patted Toby on the head, mussing his blond hair, then turned to Mary. "He's a sharp lad. Brave too. I haven't seen a single tear."

"Oh," Mary said. "He never cries. Not even when he was a baby."


"No, sir, never."

Toby slipped from his place on the bed and started for the door.

"Whoa, buddy," Baker said. "Where are you going?"

With a shrug, Toby said, "Radiology."

Baker was taken aback. "You know where radiology is?"

"There are signs on the wall." Toby marched without hesitation to the door that connected the ER with the lobby. Mary rushed to follow.

Forty-five minutes later, Mary and Toby walked back into the emergency room. Mary was carrying a large brown envelope containing the X rays of her son's hand. Baker greeted them and led them into an empty cubicle.

"Radiology called to say you were on the way," Baker began. "They also said that Toby tried to talk their ears off. Is that true, Toby?"

"I guess so."

"He's very curious," Mary said defensively.

"That's okay," Baker said. "Curiosity is a good thing. You keep asking questions, Toby. There are a lot of great things worth knowing." Baker removed the X-ray films and slipped them under the clips of a lighted view box. A stark, bright light shone through the thick film, revealing the bones of Toby's hand.

Baker grunted.

"What?" Mary asked with concern. "What's wrong?"

Baker looked at the woman. "I expected to see at least one fracture, maybe several ..." He trailed off.

"But?" Mary prompted.

"I don't see any breaks at all. Odd." Baker scratched his chin. "I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Children have very flexible bones. It looks like Toby was lucky."

Baker turned back to Toby and examined his hand again. The redness was gone, and the swelling had subsided noticeably.

"Will I get a cast?"

"You don't need one, buddy," Baker said softly. "I would have bet money when you came in that you would have walked out with a cast, but now ..."

"Now what?" Mary asked.

"Now it doesn't even look as if his hand is bruised." He turned back to Toby. "Does it still hurt?"

"A little," Toby admitted with a shrug. "But it's okay."

"I'm going to write a prescription for a pain reliever," Dr. Baker said. "The hand may hurt more than he's letting on."

Mary shuffled her feet and looked at the floor. "Is it ... expensive?"

Baker raised his eyes and stared at Mary as if seeing her for the first time. She knew she looked a mess. She wore her only dress, an old brown affair with a straight cut, and a pair of sneakers that were only slightly better than Toby's.

"You know," Baker said. "I have a better idea. Since we made you wait so long, why don't I just give you some to take with you." Mary started to object, but Baker cut her off. "Pharmaceutical companies are always sending us samples. I'll just let you have a few of those."

"Pharm ... a ... ceu ... ti ... cal?" Toby said. "What's that?"

Baker shifted his attention back to the boy. "They're companies that make medications."

"Pharmaceuticals," Toby repeated. "Medications. A medicine factory?"

"That's pretty much it," Baker said. He turned back to Mary. "He's a clever boy, all right."

"Too smart for his own good," Mary said, gently stroking her son's hair. "He's fixing my English. He loves to read and to ask questions. I guess you figured that last part out."

"Correcting your English," Toby said.

Mary shrugged. "See what I mean?"

"At least he's polite about it," Baker said. "I'll get those meds for you." He started to leave.

"Doctor?" Mary said before he had taken two steps. Baker stopped and turned. "I ... I don't know how to pay for this," she waved a hand indicating the ER room. "I told the nurse in the lobby that I would pay cash, but ... I can't. I just wanted to make sure Toby was seen."

Baker lowered his head for a moment then said, "Don't worry about it. I'll make sure everything is taken care of."

Ten minutes later, Mary and Toby, escorted by Dr. Baker, walked from the ER. "They won't stop you if I'm with you," he had said.

"Won't you get in trouble?" Mary asked.

Baker just shrugged. "I've done it before. They haven't fired me yet."

"You're a blessing, Doctor," Mary said. "God sent you our way."

"Perhaps," Baker replied with a polite smile. He led them to another corridor and pointed down the hall. "This will take you to the front of the hospital. You can exit there. If anyone gives you any trouble, you call for me. Okay?"

"Okay." Mary looked down the hall. She could see doors on each side of the corridor. Above each door was a small plastic sign with a number. Patient rooms, she decided.

Baker crouched down to face Toby. "You keep asking questions, buddy, and watch out for those car doors."

"I will," replied Toby.

"Say thank you, Toby."

"Thank you," Toby said to Dr. Baker.

Mary started down the corridor. She paused to look back at Baker, but he was gone.

"He was a nice man," Toby said perfunctorily.

"Real nice," Mary said. "Ain't many ... not many nice people in the world these days."

"What about these people?" Toby asked.

"What people?"

"In these rooms." Mary looked down and saw Toby glancing in the open doors of the corridor as they walked past. "When do they get to go home?" He stopped at one door and stared in.

"I don't know, Toby. Soon maybe," Mary said before she realized that Toby had stopped. She turned and reached for his hand. "Come on, son," she said. "It's best that we don't dawdle. We have to get back on the road."

"I didn't like the pain. It made me feel bad."

Mary smiled at her boy. At times he seemed like such an adult; other times he seemed younger, more innocent than his age. "The pills the doctor gave us will help."

"I don't need the pills now," he said. "The pain is gone. But their pain isn't."

"Life is filled with pain, son, just a mighty long stretch o' pain. Seems like there ain't no end to it. Jus' pain after pain."


"I don't know. But I do know it ain't fair. Not by any thinkin' I do."

A few minutes later, they exchanged the artificial light of the hospital with the late afternoon sun.

Bob Moss, age sixty-two, lay upon his hospital bed staring out the door and wondering if he had a future. More importantly, he wondered if there was a future for his family. The fact that he was thinking even these depressing thoughts was good news. The fog of the last week had finally begun to evaporate. He still struggled with words and names, but most of his thoughts flowed forward. It was an improvement, albeit a small one. His left arm was still limp and his left leg unresponsive. Both lifeless limbs were reminders of his body's betrayal. A blood vessel in the right side of his brain had given way like an old earthen dam. The stroke left his speech slurred and his body weak.

The doctors had said that therapy would help but that the road back would be long and arduous. He knew he would never be the same again.


Excerpted from The Prodigy by Alton Gansky Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Alton Gansky ( has written a number of other novels, including Zero-G, Finder's Fee, Director's Cut, Before Another Dies, The Prodigy, and the J. D. Stanton mystery series. He also writes nonfiction books that explore the mysteries of faith, the Bible, and God. He and his wife, Becky, have three adult children and live in Southern California.

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