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The Breath of God: A Novel of Suspense

The Breath of God: A Novel of Suspense

3.9 307
by Jeffrey Small

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A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery


A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.

Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever—if he survives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his first novel, Small (God as the Ground of Being: Tillich and Buddhism in Dialogue) puts an interesting spin on the age-old secret that could undermine Christianity theme, but he relies too much on stock characters and plot devices familiar from countless Dan Brown clones. Grant Matthews, a religious studies grad student at Atlanta's Emory University "interested in the early development of Christianity during the first century"—in particular, "how contact with other cultures might have influenced this development"—hopes to find answers in Bhutan. In the Himalayas, he looks into the legend of Issa, a boy who made a spiritual journey through India some 2,000 years ago, and meets an attractive American woman who's part Asian. After discovering ancient texts chronicling Issa's travels, Matthews becomes the target of right-wing fundamentalists. Back in the U.S., a fanatical assassin with skin problems destroys the only photographic evidence of his find. The usual abductions, murders, and betrayals follow. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

2012 Gold Award--Fiction
--Nautilus Book Awards

2012 Gold Medal--Adventure Fiction
--2012 Living Now Book Awards

Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction - SouthEast
--Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY Awards)

Book of the Year Award Finalist
—ForeWord Reviews

"The Breath of God is a spectacular thriller that spans the world, history, and the limits of imagination; an epic adventure that left me yearning for more"
—Rich Doetsch, author of The Thieves of Darkness and The 13th Hour

"As with many contemporary thrillers revolving around a spiritual quest, the novel contains chases, murder, and romance. Verdict This tale is for fans of Dan Brown's thrillers as well as readers who enjoy visionary fiction."
—Library Journal

"This meticulously researched, thought-provoking masterpiece is filled with high adventure and intrigue. Based on an actual document from 1887 claiming to have seen controversial religious texts, Small’s stunning debut reveals the impact of such a find."
RT Rating: 4 1/2 stars TOP PICK!
—RT Book Reviews

"Jeffrey Small explodes on the writing scene with his first novel and this book has Best Seller written all over it! The Breath of God is a riveting novel that grips the reader from the first chapter and does not let go until the last paragraph. Fans of the Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield), and Conversations with God (Neale Donald Walsch) will place The Breath of God right alongside these books in their library!"
—FeatureMe2 Reviews

JEFFREY SMALL, a Harvard/Yale/Oxford-educated speaker on religion and spirituality, makes an impressive literary debut ... Small’s themes, such as the common ground of the world’s religions, are timely.
—Atlanta Magazine

The Breath of God is a spellbinding novel, full of suspense as well as the thrills of a lifetime. Very hard to put down. It also brings religion to the forefront of the reader's mind, no matter what faith he or she follows, raising questions that have not been asked before, as well as bringing other parts of the world into the living room. Not to be missed. Excellent reading.

"First time novelist Jeffrey Small has created a thrilling adventure tale that spans cultures and religious traditions while also exploring fundamental spiritual truths. I was intrigued by the unique proposition that lies at the heart of the plot and captivated by the characters that keep the story moving. If you enjoy reading a fast moving mystery with the added bonus of a challenging investigation of religious beliefs then this is the book for you."
—Steve Floyd, CEO August House Books and Story Cove

"In this gripping tale – played out against an intriguing international setting – East meets West, mystery meets romance, the human spirit meets the divine spirit and the reader meets a novelist of the first caliber."
—The Honorable Raymond Seitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain

"In his first novel, Small...puts an interesting spin on the age-old secret that could undermine Christianity."
—Publishers Weekly

“What fun, for the heart and for the soul! In this compelling thriller, Jeffrey Small treks through a fascinating nineteenth century legend—or is it a hoax, or is it a healthy exercise in our broadening spiritual awareness? In this delightful book, Small also explores the popular distinction between religion as exploitation and religion as mysticism. Enjoy it!”
—The Very Reverend Samuel G. Candler, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip

From the very first pages, The Breath of God will draw you in! Jeffrey Small's masterful storytelling will take you from Himalayan monasteries to the American Bible Belt in a heart pounding adventure filled with twists, turns and shocking revaluations that will rock the foundation of traditional Christianity. This gripping roller coaster of a novel will keep you guessing until the very end. If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you will love this book.
—Darren Main, author of Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic

"In Dan Brown-esque fashion, Jeffrey Small has crafted a thriller based on historical research, scholarship, and his own creative gift. The book is for those who are not afraid to think or ask the question “What if?” It engages the reader on many levels with a tension between action and ideas; it offers pleasurable escape but also food for thought. Small is right on target with characters we love and those we love to hate, a taut narrative that spans 2000 years and transports the reader halfway around the world, abundant sensory detail that invites us to smell, taste, hear and feel what the characters are experiencing, and a heart-stopping pace that won’t let you relax. A very impressive debut that solidly hits the mark!"
—Kathy McClelland, Director of Libraries, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, GA

“The Breath of God, the debut thriller by Jeffrey Small, is sure to create controversy while exploring the plausibility of an ancient legend that could tie the world’s religions to each other. Although fiction, Mr. Small paints a colorful and realistic depiction of India that reflects the multi-faceted environment of daily existence in that country. Mr. Small also weaves a suspenseful journey for protagonist Grant Matthews that keeps the reader coming back for more. The most intriguing aspects of the book, in my opinion, are the parallels drawn among the major world religions and how such religions connect despite their many differences. A must read for those that love suspense and mystery; also for those who wish to expand their knowledge of the world’s religions, check out this novel.”
—Kenneth A. Cutshaw, Former Honorary Consul of India

"Adding to his impressive scholarship work on world religions, Jeffrey Small distinguishes himself as a great story teller in his first novel, The Breath of God. Small brings the reader on a page turning adventure, as Grant Matthew’s goes east in search of the ancient mystery of Issa. This story of mystery and intrigue leads the reader down a fascinating path toward uncovering the origins of the world’s major religions. The history, the legend, the suspense and the story of The Breath of God will keep the reader on the edge of his seat from start to finish.”
—Rev. Lang Lowrey, President of The General Theological Seminary

“Jeffrey Small skillfully maneuvers this spectacular historical mystery between the Indian subcontinent and the American south, where Evangelicals go to war against a scholar’s tantalizing discovery. You’ll be fascinated by the stunning connections between the world’s faiths that Small unveils against today’s background of savage religious hostilities.”
—Parul Hinzen, ArtsCriticATL.com

This was a page turner! From the very first sentence to very last word this book kept me captivated. It's a combination of religious/mystery/historical/modern day thriller and I found it to be just about unputdownable....The descriptions of place are so well written I almost felt like I was actually there. The thriller aspect had me racing through the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Overall this was a fascinating tale of what can lurk behind blind faith and what is possible if you open your mind.

A Breathless Quest.....Jeffrey Small executes perfectly the all-too-often violent struggle between blind belief and unbelieving intelligence alongside the mystical quest upon which all the world's religions rest. Few religious novels can be entertaining, educational and inspiring at the same time, but The Breath of Godpulls off this literary hat trick adoitly.
—The Progressive Christian

"A fast-paced adventure with a deep backdrop of religious scholarship."
—Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In Small's (God as the Ground of Being, 2009) theological thriller, an American grad student traveling through Bhutan uncovers a secret, ancient connection between the world's major religions. In a remote monastery, Grant Matthews befriends Kinley Goenpo, a wise older monk who shares his spirit of curiosity. Deep within the monastery's library is exactly what Grant has been searching for: ancient texts purporting to show a direct link between the teachings of Hinduism and early Christianity. The two join forces with Kristin Misaki, a free-spirited traveling journalist with whom Grant quickly becomes infatuated, to try to bring the evidence to light. They're thwarted by conservative religious leaders, both in Kinley's Buddhist order and within the evangelical Christian community in the United States. Most threatening of all is Tim Huntley--a Christian extremist, ex-soldier and ruthless killer--who makes it his mission to ensure that the texts are destroyed along with whomever stands in his way. Soon, the enigmatic Kinley disappears with the texts in order to protect them, leaving Grant and Kristin to follow his trail across India and Bhutan, with Huntley close behind them. The novel's themes give Small, who studied religion at Oxford, ample opportunity to explore the history and common traits of different faiths. He handles subjects like the development of the Gospels and the nature of Hindu deities without slowing down the action. The storyline offers brief lessons on various locations--the Taj Mahal, the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi and the mountaintop Taktsang monastery in the Himalayas--as they become focal points in the plot. A few moments feel a bit contrived, though, and the villains sometimes veer toward being melodramatically evil. Overall, however, the religious themes don't come across as gimmicky, and Small seems sincerely interested in exploring the relationship between faith and fact. A fast-paced adventure with a deep backdrop of religious scholarship.

Product Details

West Hills Press
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Meet the Author

Jeffrey Small graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He holds a master’s degree in the study of religions from Oxford University. Jeffrey is a popular blogger and an acclaimed speaker on the topics of rethinking religion in the twenty-first century and the common spiritual themes in the world’s religions.

Raised in a Christian environment, Jeffrey is active in the Episcopal church, but he has also studied yoga in India, practiced Buddhist meditation in Bhutan, explored the ancient temples in Egypt, and journeyed throughout the Holy Land. He lives with his wife and daughter in Atlanta.

For more information, please go to jeffreysmall.com.

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Breath of God 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 307 reviews.
St-Paul-Peter More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I stumbled upon this book in search of something to satisfy my desire for another Dan Brown type novel. I don't remember if I found it on my own or if someone recommended it, but nonetheless I'm glad I found it. I'm not an extensive reader, but I definitely enjoy a good book. I was raised Catholic, but no longer have a real Christian (or other religion) or scientific allegiance. I am open minded about all avenues of spirituality, and I simply desire knowledge and truth. Jeffrey Smalls writing emits a down-to-earth resonance with me. The combination of suspense and underlying meaning made this book difficult to put down. Instead of uncovering a secret dark truth I was enlightened to the possibilty of a legitimate way that humanity could be united, which is something that seems impossible in this day and age. I am anxious to expand my personal knowledge and understanding of many things after reading this. It was a pleasurable and educational read, and easily a book than people from any walk of life can enjoy.
SteveR_NJ More than 1 year ago
This is not your typical thriller - there's real theological meat here, regardless of the accuracy of specific historical events that Small cites. He gives you a lot to think about without bogging down in explanation or lecturing. At the same time, he drives the plot forward with a tense thriller that has plenty of action, all without devolving into a Michael Bay movie. A read that's worth your time and money.
bookwormspath More than 1 year ago
This riveting suspense thriller spins its plot around one of the great mysteries of the Bible--the missing years of Jesus of Nazareth. A mystery first purportedly uncovered by Nicholas Notovich, a Russian journalist, in 1887. Notovich's discovery was later discredited and the evidence of his findings mysteriously vanished. Fast forward, a century later, Grant Matthews, the fictional graduate student in Small's debut novel, pursues the truth about Notovich's discovery. Joined on his journey by an intriguing love interest, Matthews travels to the world's greatest Islamic landmark, the most sacred Hindu city, and the birthplace of Buddhism--all in the quest to understand the origins of Christianity. So is it truth or fiction? Small masterfully weaves together a fictional tale based on the historical foundation of Notovich's discovery. In parallel, he creates a set of characters that transform before the reader's eyes, transcending the physical and spiritual worlds. Full of emotional tension, this book was a page turner! My book club recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a fascinating discussion about comparative religions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates creative works of suspense tinged with religious or historical mystery.
christy7410 More than 1 year ago
This book had real potential, but lacked real action and suspense. I expected more because it was compared to Dan Brown's work. The main character was somewhat flat and the plot was fairly predictable.
SawtoothMtns More than 1 year ago
I'm enjoying this book ... it's written in the style of Dan Brown, with short, exciting paragraphs that jump from one location to another, and switch characters with each location. It leaves me wanting more ... and wanting to see how they will all come together. Historical background is well researched.
CMCain More than 1 year ago
The reader is taken on an exciting, well-researched adventure after which he/she will never be quite the same. A must read by young adults curious about Jesus' "lost" years and us old timers who have pretty much come to believe what he was up to. This thoughtful, perceptive, even brilliant first novel is a Protestant DaVince Code! If you enjoy the writing of Lincoln Child, Preston and Child, Tananarive Due, James Rollins, Bruce Feller or Jeffery L. Sheler's, "Is The Bible True?" don't pass this book by. I will definitely buy Small's next work. He is an impressive writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For those asking about the reviews of the book...first the book is free, so you don't loose money of it goes against your beliefs and want to delete later. Second, from the first pages of reviews inside the book... it all comes to world's religions, being opened minded and it is supposed to be a suspense like "Davinci code". Based on history and facts...a novel to have your mind guessing and opened to what else is out there.
LOUIS_ROMANO More than 1 year ago
Just finished The Breath of God. Jeffrey Small owes me a good nights sleep. Superb writing and a great thought provoking concept. More coming I hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the "The Breath of God". I couldn't put it down. it really answers a lot of questions you may have. I look forward Jeffrey's next book! You will not be disappointed.
IanaKras More than 1 year ago
The topic of this novella may be very noble and engaging (finding common ground for Buddhism and Christianity, etc.), the author is a well qualified scholar...I bought a book, after all, for exactly those reasons... Unfortunately, the result is a danbrown'esque novel that is quite "secondary", predictable, all those riddles, clues and villans, chases and even Vatican, thus boooring! I am a voracious reader but gave up on the page 124... Would recommend only to those readers who never read any novels of this sort before.
lhasa7lover More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading The Breath of God and found it very interesting. Thought-provoking and on the edge of your seat. I loved it and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. The author gave me a lot to think about and caused me to do further research on the subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. If you likr Dan Brown you will love this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author's novel is full of mystery and theological discussions. The debates between Grant and Finley cover a variety of religions and inspired this reader to research them more closely.
Don_Miller More than 1 year ago
The Breath of God is a great suspense novel built around a focal issue that is as vital around the globe today as it ever has been - interplay among the world's great religions. Small's characters stand out and remain after the book is finished; the lesser ones, Deepraj, Dasho, Lama Dorji, and Billingsly, as well as the major players, Tim, Brady, Jennings, Jigme, Kinley, and especially Kristin and Grant. The faults, quirks, and pieces of personal history that shape the characters make them as memorable as do their strengths. The action is fast-paced and imbued with a level of tension and suspense that makes it almost impossible to lay the book down at the end of any chapter. The twists and turns get this reaction: "Wait. Did that just happen?" Reread a couple paragraphs and, "Yeah, it did! Wow, I didn't see that coming." The novel is very well written and edited. It's easy to see why The Breath of God took the Gold Medal in the 2012 Living Now Book Awards. If you like action-packed thrillers with characters that will jump into your head and heart, you'll like this book. I'm looking forward to reading Small's next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not quite up to The DaVinci Code standard however a good read non-the-less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A real page turner! This book will make you think about the origins of your faith in God and how weare all connected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the author's ability to take several views of the same world and intertwine them into such an appealing read.... Good stuff!
Barb1966 More than 1 year ago
If you like Dan Brown you'll like Jeffrey Small. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I'd highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like intrigue and religon, this book is for you. Could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read held my attention
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a book! From the minute I opened this book, I was white water rafting, then learning philosophy from monks! This book did what a good book should. It was thought provoking! I could not put it down! If you have not had a chance to read it, put it on your summer reading list!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very nice novel. The plot moved well and I enjoyed the characters. I look forward to reading more of Mr Small's work.
Janice_Brightstar More than 1 year ago
This was a fascinating travelogue of Bhutan and India. It was also a great treatise on comparative religions (or at least how they each began). There were enough true facts in the story to make it entirely believable, with a surprising twist at the end. A great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty involved religious context with suspense story wrapped around it. I found it highly entertaining and enlightening.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy the excitement of what will happen next you will love this book! I can't wait for his next book!!!