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The Book of Neil

It's 2012 and Jesus returns to earth, to a "fair little city," where he is ignored, dismissed and scoffed at as "another mentally ill street preacher." Then one day Jesus, wearing "a grayish robe tied by a thick rope around the waist... his hair... long and swept across his shoulders with each practice swing" strikes up a conversation on the Crystal Creek golf course with Neil, a middle-aged man in familial and financial crises. Jesus, desperate for media attention in a world driven by and preoccupied with technology, materialism and self-indulgence, enlists Neil's help. The two hatch a plan to rob a bank to benefit their mutually desired goals.

The hilariously flawed execution of their plan snowballs in Frank Turner Hollon's The Book of Neil, a smart, amusing story about faith and the nature of belief in the modern world. Hollon (Blood and Circumstance, Austin and Emily) narrates Jesus's return to earth via the points of view of those whose lives He touches, an array of believers and doubters: Neil, suffering pre- and post-robbery panic; the skeptical police chief; a bank teller who feels a sudden "peace come over her" during the robbery; a New York Times reporter eager to tell the story of the "Jesus-Bandit"; even the president of the United States.

Unexpected twists and turns shape this engrossing, satirical novel. At the end, on the rapid approach to a chilling climax, the story suddenly emerges in a new light and Hollon's literary craftsmanship leaps from mere entertainment into a much deeper, thought-provoking epiphany. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines