Monthly Archives: June 2010

Babylon Rising, Chapter 45

The triumphant return of Dr. Isis Proserpina McDonald!

Still, once again, a hard-to-snark section, as Murphy frets at Laura’s bedside.  His desperation, his anticipation of the worst, even his embarrassment at being seen teary-eyed in front of a nurse, all make me almost forget what a horrible, arrogant ass he’s been until now.

Really, my only nitpick is that there is “a pill that was making [Laura] sleep.”  Seems weird to have given a pill to a patient with a crushed windpipe, instead of just giving her drugs via an IV, but whatever.

And then…AND THEN…

Standing by the door, looking past him at Laura with an expression of infinite sadness, was a red-haired woman in a long black coat that looked too big for her.

GO TEAM ISIS!

Isis, perhaps sensing that she has barely one book before she will be turned into a simpering wuss, brings ALL her powers of awesome to this scene, for she has flown from D.C. to give Murphy back the piece of the Serpent.  She thinks that he thinks that it has healing powers:

“But you risked your life to get it.  I thought it was supposed to have healed the Israelites when they were bitten by poisonous snakes.  I thought that’s what you believed.”

Murphy tries to school her, contradicting himself practically every sentence.  The serpent didn’t heal them.  God healed them.  But there are “no magic tricks.”  But faith healers are not magic tricks.  But trying to use the Serpent would be sinful.

He stays on that note, more concerned about the sinfulness of trying the Serpent than whether or not the Serpent actually works.  This prompts Isis to the following:

“What does it matter?  So what if you commit a sin if it saves Laura’s life?  You’re just being selfish, worrying about the cleanliness of your soul when she could be dead.” 

ISIS MCDONALD, WILL YOU EVER STOP BEING AWESOME?

Well, she will, but not until the next book.

In the meantime, Isis immediately apologizes, and takes the piece of the Serpent back at Murphy’s insistence.  He then asks her to say a prayer for Laura.  Isis does not tell him that that would be a magic trick or sinful or that it would not work.

Isis leaves, and as though sensing that all of the awesome has vacated the premises, Laura dies.

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Come Spring: Initial Impression

Not so much bad as just really, really boring.

Oh, and the hero is an arrogant asshat (in the best LaHaye tradition) who is angered when his landlady wants him to pay rent.

LaHaye’s Historical Romances

Holy flippin’ crap, you guys.

And I mean HOLY FLIPPIN’ CRAP!!!11!!1!

They wrote a series of historical romances.

Tim Lahaye and Greg Dinallo wrote three historical romance novels.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment, shall we?

Let me just say, I was not aware of these.  Then, I went to a bookstore, and the third book was on the clearance rack.

I was not aware.

LaHaye wrote HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVELS.

I…just…I…mind…bottling…

Okay, see for yourself:

Come Spring

The Best Christmas Gift

Always Grace

Babylon Rising: Chapter 44

Murphy and Laura are on the way to the hospital (from the police station, to which Laura magically arrived after having her windpipe crushed by Talon in the basement of the church).

Upon arrival at the hospital…

…the paramedics pulled the gurney out onto the tarmac and started barreling toward the trauma center like a bobsled team trying to gain momentum.

Oh, so torn…

Okay, I know what Dinallo means, and I can see the comparison, but still, it seems a rather cavalier way to describe a dying woman being rushed into a hospital.

Maybe it’s just me.

Murph is kept out while the doctors and nurses do their work, and bumps right into Shari, who apparently went to the hospital with Paul and has waited for news of his condition all Wednesday night and into Thursday.  And thus my opinion of Shari rises a fair amount.

Except, and not that it’s Shari’s fault, even though we have been told that Paul is “in a coma,” he is apparently being worked on in the same trauma center as Laura, and has not been moved to a room where Shari can see him.  Did they really need 12+ hours to work on Paul?

As GDwarf said in the comments, it is hard to be mad at sections like this, as LaHaye and Dinallo (especially, it appears to me, Dinallo) try to convey the feelings of helplessness experienced by family and friends when a loved one is injured.  And sometimes, it is pretty effective:

The minutes passed and then Murphy lost all sense of time and he was arguing with Laura about something and then she started laughing and his heart leaped because she was all right and then he realized he must be dreaming and woke up with a start.

That’s pretty good.  It would have been better, methinks, if Murphy’s dream had been arguing with Laura about something specific, maybe something completely pointless or something very important.  The problem is that we know so little of Laura’s personality or her relationship with Murphy.  Had they had a silly argument two days ago about how Murph always leaves DVDs in the player when he’s done watching, instead of putting them away?  Was Laura at all anxious about the book she’s been working on, or upset that she hasn’t been able to write since Murph’s been utilizing her talents for his own purposes and dragging her to other countries just as the school year has begun?

Then a character we have never heard of before, a Dr. Keller, appears with an update for both parties (Really?  The same doctor was working on Paul all night, and now is working on Laura?).  There has been no change in Paul’s condition.

Dr. Keller then throws medical terminology out the window by declaring Laura to be simultaneously “stable” and “losing ground.”  Sorry, doc, but that’s not how it works.  “Stable” means “not changing.”  One cannot be both stable and losing ground.  Grrr…

Keller shook his [Murphy’s] hand and nodded solemnly before walking back through the trauma center doors.  Unusually for him, he’d run out of words.

Well, if we knew Dr. Keller or anything about him, we might agree that it is unusual for him to run out of words.  Does Murphy know this is unusual for the doctor?  Did Dinallo mean to introduce Dr. Keller earlier, and forgot?  This makes no sense.

Murph declares that it is time to get some coffee before starting a lengthy prayer session.

And thus the chapter concludes.

Babylon Rising, Chapter 43

Stephanie Kovacs, appropriately enough, feels awfully lucky.  Stuck in small-town Americana, she heard the church bomb go off from her hotel room.  She was on the scene immediately and, as Murph and Laura speed to the hospital (FROM THE FREAKING POLICE STATION WTF???), she is busy revealing that the church was not the target of the bombing, but the perpetrator of the bombing, and hinting at connections between the church bomb, Farley the Fanatic, and the U.N. vandalism.

Oh, and she’s interviewing the evil, button-materials-article-writing, Dean Fallworth.

Dean Fallworth cannot appear in the story without more indications that he is eeevil, but we start off slowly this time, with Fallworth appearing to almost say “My pleasure” when Stephanie thanks him for his time.

Further showing his awfulness, Fallworth does not automatically assume the Christians are the Good Guys:

“We’ve always had a strong evangelical presence here.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  But I believe more extreme elements—fundamentalist evangelicals, if you will—are gradually taking control.  And I believe these elements may be behind the terrible tragedy we witnessed here yesterday.”

Now, naturally, this is not meant to be the reasoned view of a man in the know in the wake of a tragedy.  This is meant to show that all non-RTCs are just waiting to persecute the innocent “fundamentalist evangelicals.”

And yeah, given the lack of evidence, it’s irresponsible journalism.  But a big part of the problem is that, judging by the comments, the evidence in the basement would lead to the conclusion of a bomb stockpile, not a bomb factory.  So right away, everything that Stephanie is talking about seems wrong, not because she is going off half-cocked or not listening to all sides of the story, but because LaHaye and Dinallo didn’t do their research about explosives.

Oh, and because Talon had the worst plan of all time.

Fallworth goes on:

“Stephanie, I think the most important thing to say is that whatever they believe—whether it’s that the end of the world is approaching or the Second Coming or whatever—they just don’t accept that you or I might take a different view, that we might have different beliefs—even different Christian beliefs.”

Again, that sounds pretty reasonable and accurate.  Read Pastor Bob’s rants in the last chapter, and the end of the world and a lack of acceptance that other people might have equally valid takes on the situation, sounds right on.  Perhaps if Tim LaHaye Pastor Bob had been more concerned about the four people who died and about the possible bomb stockpile factory in the basement than in talking about how the U.N. wants a one-world gubmint and how abortion is murder, I might be feeling a bit more generous.

And then…Fallworth truly lays the smack down on Murphy!

“It hurts me deeply to have to say this, but I believe one of our own faculty is the leading voice behind this pernicious movement.”

THE EVIL FALLWORTH IS ACCUSING MURPHY OF BEING THE LEADING VOICE OF EVANGELICALS ON CAMPUS ZOMG!

Actually, that sounds like a title that Murphy would happily embrace.

BUT…

“In the interest of the students, I will be recommending to the university board that we suspend Professor Murphy unil we conduct a proper internal inquiry.”

Fallworth will no doubt pay for such blasphemy.

Babylon Rising, Chapter 42

In which our heroes really bring the crazy, and in which occurs the most blatant continuity error that I have ever seen in a LaHaye novel.

The first sentence of the chapter is:

Chief Rawley ushered them into the interview room and indicated three chairs on one side of the steel table bolted to the bare floor.

Remember this bit when we get to the end of the chapter, folks.  I kinda think Dinallo lost track of where he was.

So, Chief Rawley has taken Reverend Bob and Michael Murphy to the police station, where Agents Baines (Nice FBI guy) and Welsh (Mean FBI guy) will question them.

Okay, so first of all, why is Murphy even there?  The last time Murphy and Welsh talked to each other (over the phone after the UN vandalism), it turned into a screaming match.  And surely in this situation, Murphy has no more or less to add to the evidence than any other church member who was there the evening of the bombing.

Speaking of evening, the bombing took place, we are told, on Wednesday evening.  It is now Thursday, at some unspecified time.  Sure is a good thing that Murphy and Laura could both hang around the church for so long.  Good thing that neither of them has a job at the local university that might require their presence.

Reverend Bob takes a seat.  His broken arm is in a cast and he has a bandage wrapped around his head.  Presumably, he suffered a concussion (he complained of head pain in Chapter 39, right after the bombing).

As somebody who has also had a concussion, I feel I should point out to LaHaye and Dinallo that wrapping a bandage around someone’s head is convenient movie shorthand, but is not really necessary for treatment of a concussion.

Chief Rawley and Baines and Welsh are on one side of the table, Welsh and Baines sitting, Rawley standing “as if he wanted to distance himself from what was about to happen.”

What is about to happen is that Welsh is going to reveal to Pastor Bob the utterly astonishing and totally unexpected news that the church is still a crime scene.

I know, right?  I’m as shocked as you are.  It’s truly like a bolt from the blue.

Well, it is for Pastor Bob, at least:

“A crime scene?  I don’t understand.”

Poor Agent Welsh has to explain to Bob, as he would a small and unintelligent child, that the explosion wasn’t an accident.  Which, well, duh.

Bob still has to be spoon-fed, and the following exchange takes place:

“Then, what did cause it?”

Welsh looked at him steadily.  “I was kind of hoping you could tell me that.”

Oh, snap.

Murphy was on his feet, leaning over the table.  “Just what are you suggesting?  Bob was nearly killed in there.”

Okay, someone explain to me again what Murphy’s doing in there?  Who invited him?

Welsh didn’t blink.  He waited until Murphy sat down again, then lifted the flap of one of the boxes.

Oh, snap.  Welsh just won a staring contest against Our Hero!

I have decided to cast the late, great, J.T. Walsh as Agent Welsh.

You go on with your bad self, you cold as ice FBI agent who can stare down Christian Indiana Jones!

I would just like to see the look on Murph’s face in this scene: “So, you’re not going to respond to my righteous indignation?  We’re not going to throw down right here, right now?  Oh…maybe I’ll just…sit down again…if that’s okay.” *sits*  “I’ll just count that as a technical victory for me.”

Welsh informs Bob that the basement of the church was a bomb factory.  Which does not jive with the evidence at all, but that’s LaHaye and Dinallo’s fault, not Welsh’s.  Welsh brings up the whole UN-vandalism thing, as an example of what “fanatics” do.

Murphy jumped up.  “Fanatics?  What are you, the Joe McCarthy of G-men, Welsh?  Conspiracies everywhere.  Fanatics like who?”

Why doesn’t Welsh just kick Murphy’s ass out right now?  Or, if he thinks Murphy is involved (and Murphy seems like just the kind of arrogant hothead who would confess everything, confident that he could never be punished), why doesn’t Welsh interview Murphy and Bob separately?

I’m also kinda surprised that Murphy seems to classify Joseph McCarthy as a Bad Guy.

“Like the sort of people who believe the U.N. is evil.  Evangelical Christians, for instance.” [says Welsh]

Ah.  The crafty Welsh is trying to trap them.  To make them talk about how much they hate the U.N. so they can be linked to the vandalism.  But surely Pastor Bob isn’t so stupid as to fall for such an obvious ploy…

“We don’t believe the U.N. is evil,” Wagoner interjected.

Ah, good for you, Bob.  You don’t believe the U.N. is evil.  That’s all you need to say…

“We believe it does some good work.  Peacekeeping in certain third world countries where there is chaos, humanitarian aid, health programs, and so on.”

Okay, why don’t you just stop right there, Bob?  No need to give your entire philosophy or…

“But we are suspicious about their efforts to promote globalism by uniting all religions regardless of their beliefs, and by uniting the world’s governments under a single entity.  In particular, I’m very concerned about turning the sovereignty of the United States government over to a world court.”

Great job allaying their suspicions, Bob.  Break out the tinfoil hat, and the image will be complete.

And out of all the questions Welsh could ask, given this little rant, this is the one he comes up with:

“Are you saying you oppose striving for world peace through global unity?”

Still, maybe it’s not so bad, since it opens the door for Pastor Bob to just keep on going.  Sure, four members of your congregation are dead, and sure, a bomb is to blame (this he learned thirty seconds ago), and the members of his own church are suspected, and the U.N. was vandalized by what appear to be evangelical Christians, but the best thing to talk about right now, the least suspicious subject, is how much peace sucks:

“Every single attempt to secure a one-world religion or a one-world government in the past has resulted in a totalitarian regime, inevitably causing the deaths of countless numbers of innocent citizens.  We must learn from history.  Man is incapable of bringing peace to this planet on his own.  This world will never enjoy world peace until Christ Himself comes to set up his kingdom.  His kingdom will last for a thousand years, and the Bible is very clear regarding this prophecy.”

I imagine J.T. Walsh with a small smile on his face, sitting back, relaxing, and just letting Pastor Bob rant for as long as he wants while his church is in ruins and his parishioners lay dead.

“Then maybe some of your people thought a few bombs might hurry it along.” [says Welsh]

Oh, snap again!

Once again, Pastor Bob is shocked (shocked, I say!) by basic logical reasoning:

Wagoner was stunned.  “Our people?  Evangelical Christians don’t set off bombs, Agent Welsh.”

Of course not.  Evangelical Christian = Nice Person.  No nice person ever sets off bombs.

A point that is sadly lost on Agent Welsh:

“How about the people who bomb family-planning clinics?  Who kill doctors who perform abortions?  They’re Christians, aren’t they?”

So, of course, Pastor Bob plays No True Scotsman with Agent Welsh.  Because if a Christian does something bad…well, they’re not a Christian, are they?

Of course not.

And Pastor Bob manages to play the abortion = murder card, so he gets to have his cake and eat it, too.  Is there any question that won’t result in a lecture from Pastor Bob?

Agent Baines (Nice FBI Agent) steps in and backs the church and Pastor Bob.  Sure is good that he does so, too.  I’m not sure how much more of this relentless onslaught poor Pastor Bob could take!

Agent Baines makes an impassioned, if kinda dumb-sounding, plea for churches and small-town church-goers in general, and Pastor Bob and Preston Community Church in particular, and an appeal to FAITH ITSELF: “I know that’s gut talking, not forensics, sir, but sometimes we have to listen to bigger evidence than what our eyes tell us, don’t we?”

Well, Nice Agent Baines, generally we hear with our ears and see with our eyes, but other than that…actually, the whole thing still sounds dumb.

But they are interrupted “because Laura Murphy stumbled through the doorway looking wild-eyed and in pain.”

WHAT?

Did Dinallo forget that they’re at the police station, and not still at the church?

How the hell did Laura Murphy get to the interrogation room of the police station in her condition?

What the hell is going on, anyway???

Laura faints before she can say a word, and Murphy shouts for an ambulance, and HOW THE HELL DID LAURA GET FROM THE BASEMENT OF THE CHURCH TO THE POLICE STATION, AND INTO THE INTERROGATION ROOM OF THE POLICE STATION, WITH A CRUSHED WINDPIPE?

Did Talon give her a lift?

Babylon Rising, Chapter 41, Part 2

Talon needs to go back down to the church basement to retrieve the keys he Left Behind.

Happily, he has been hanging out in the church parking lot, in a way that I am sure is not suspicious at all, so it’s not a long walk.

Laura Murphy sees him.  And duh, recognizes him as “The creep who had been hanging around with Shari’s brother.”

So instead of enlisting one of the, I’m sure, countless policemen, FBI agents, or emergency workers, Laura just follows Talon down into the basement like an idiot.

Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, she has no right to be surprised when Talon grabs her throat before she is even three steps into the basement.

I, however, am suprised that either of them could get down to the basement at all.  It is, we are told, the morning after the bombing, which took place on Wednesday evening.  And the FBI and local police are still there.  And they just leave the scene of the crime alone and unguarded so that any random asshats can wander around and tamper with evidence or hurt themselves?

I guess they must, though, as Talon and Laura are entirely alone.  He grabs her throat and unleashes his Villain Soliloquy:

“I can’t do anything to that husband of yours while he’s still useful to us.  But nobody said anything about needing you.  And without you, maybe your husband will have more time to work a little quicker.”

Okay, that makes no sense whatsoever, but I’m going to ignore that, because The Seven actually don’t.  So more on this later.

Talon crushes Laura’s windpipe, and the Good Christian Wife begins to pray…

Oh yeah, who called it?

Babylon Rising, Chapter 41, Part 1

This horrible plan and the resulting investigation are fascinating to me, so we are moving right along!

We begin with a reminder that Talon is evil:

Talon preferred being close in, looking at his victims face-to-face.  It was neater, riskier, and always more memorable to look at their fear just before he slashed them.  Of course, he also derived extreme pleasure from the deadly precision of the falcons he had trained for so many years.

Gee, we would never know that Talon was evil unless we were told here, in Chapter forty-freakin’-one.  We certainly had no clues, other than the murders of Farley the window-washer, Arthur the Impliedly Gay son of Shane Barrington, Chuck the dumb ex-con, and now the church bombing.

Good thing we were told.

Also, it seems odd that Talon likes both to be face-to-face with his victims, and killing from a distance with his falcons.  You would think it would be one or the other.  I figure that LaHaye and Dinallo really liked both ideas, and put them into the same character, when it would have made more sense to paint Talon as someone who likes to kill at a distance with his falcons, but will kill up close when he has to.

Anyway, this is all secondary to the fact that Talon is ruminating over all this while standing in the parking lot of the church he just bombed.

TALON, YOU ARE THE STUPIDEST CRIMINAL MASTERMIND EVER!

So, with the local police, emergency workers, and oh yeah, the FBI hanging around, Talon decides to stand around in the parking lot, gazing admiringly at the carnage he has wrought.  He’s not a church member, not a local that people would recognize from the neighborhood, and the only people who would recognize him (Laura and Shari) know him as the suspicious guy who’s been hanging around with a troublemaking ex-con.

More on the explosives and the Really Stupid Plan: There was enough force in that backpack to bring down half the building, and it had been packed into a plastic sheet that looked like a laminated pocket protector.  There were also other explosive materials packed in the bags he and Chuck had planted around the basement, but it would not take the FBI long to determine that those were just window dressing.

Well, if you knew they would be quickly determined to be fakes, why did you even put them there, you idiot??

Once he had killed Chuck in the basement, he had packed the C-10 explosives into the backpack, since he hadn’t wanted Chuck walking around with it, then put the wired backpack back on Chuck and left him in the basement.

What?  So Chuck’s only job was to wear the backpack after he was dead?  Chuck was not an evangelical and had nothing to do with this church.  HOW DOES THIS DISCREDIT EVANGELICALS?

And sheesh, why even include Chuck in the stupid plan, since it’s obvious you could have done everything yourself?

Talon had checked to make sure that Chuck had left Paul Wallach far from the explosion so that he would survive.

WHAT?  How could you possibly know that an unconscious guy, on the same floor as an explosion that would “bring down half the building,” would survive?  How??  And why would you care if he survives or not?  Again, he has nothing to do with this church and isn’t even a Christian!

But wait, there’s more:

Making it look like the accidental explosion of a basement bomb factory run by evangelical Christian extremists would not hold up for long under the scrutiny of the FBI. 

Hey, genius, maybe it would if you didn’t involve so many non-Christians in your plan.  Just sayin’.  You get a “D” for effort, Talon.

Talon comforts himself with the thought that, “By the time the FBI saw that the bomb factory ‘evidence’ was just window dressing, the media would have moved.  In its wake would be a time of noise and confusion, and people would recall mainly a bunch of crazy evangelicals to be afraid of.”

You wouldn’t have this cold comfort if you had put just a bit of effort into making it look like the work of evangelicals, not out-of-town non-Christians, Talon.

Then Talon remembers something.

He left his keys behind.

I am not making this up.

Talon left his keys in Chuck’s jacket.  Which is still on Chuck’s body.  Which is now, presumably, lying mangled in the basement, unless investigators and emergency personnel have removed it already.

So he has to go back down into the basement to retrieve his keys.

Worst.  Criminal.  Mastermind.  Ever.

Babylon Rising, Chapter 40

I’ll admit right up front that I know nothing about explosives.  It is necessary for me to explain this, as this is the exposition chapter about the church bomb, and a few terms are tossed about, and I have no idea of their meanings. 

We are also re-introduced to our two FBI agents.  The Nice FBI agent is Hank Baines from Charlotte.  The Mean FBI agent is Burton Welsh from Washington.  Local Chief of Police Rawley is also there.  He is Nice.

We get a quick info dump:

“Body count change in the last hour?” 

“Yeah, one more.  Don’t know who yet, he must have been practically right on top of the blast…” 

(I know who it is!  I know who it is!  It’s Chuck!  Chuck was right on top of the blast!  Ha!  I know something the FBI doesn’t know!) 

“…Then two more downstairs and two upstairs.  Those are the dead.” 

Then the info dump on the explosives.  After the patented “This was no boating accident!” moment (Welsh snorted.  “Chief, you don’t get this from a gas leak.”), it is explained that it was not C-4 explosives (a name I know only from the movies) but C-10 explosives (a name I know not at all).  

Perhaps my Google-fu is just weak this morning, or perhaps I am just insufficiently caffeinated, but the only definitions I could get on C-10 anything had to do with military vessels and video games.  But I welcome any comments anyone may have on this, if only to find out if LaHaye and Dinallo did their research. 

Now, on to the motive behind the explosion. 

Welsh opines that the church had a bomb factory in the basement, and accidentally set something off.  At this point, the evidence is entirely on his side–an explosion that came from within and was not caused by anything as innocent as a boiler (Thanks, Michael Murphy!) and (oooo!) pamphlets lying around on the ground

Agent Welsh picked up a charred flyer from the floor and read out loud.  “‘Will you be left behind?!?!'” 

Was LaHaye afraid that his new novel would be so awesome that readers would forget about his other series? 

Pastor Bob has apparently already told the agents that he’s never seen those pamphlets before.  But Welsh is already on to his next insight: 

“I mean, you [Rawley] don’t know this kid Wallach, I bet.  What’s to say he’s not some out-of-towner down here to shake things up?” 

And already, Talon’s elaborately stupid plan begins to fall apart.  Remember, the whole point of the plan is to discredit evangelical Christians.  Kinda hard to do that when you deliberately link a nonreligious out-of-towner to your church bombings, eh, Talon? 

Rawley responds: “Well, all I know about him is he’s a friend of Shari Nelson, a coed who works for Michael Murphy.  She’s a great kid, and I couldn’t imagine her getting caught up with anything fringe.” 

The way that everyone in this book knows the details of everyone else’s lives kinda freaks me out.  Does Chief Rawley also know that Murphy e-mails Shari at 2:00 in the morning, in addition to knowing all about Shari’s latest conversion projects?   

Oh, and just to be sure we know that Welsh is evil, he reveals that this is the first church he has set foot in since he was fifteen years old.

Babylon Rising, Chapter 39

This is the chapter where shit gets real, folks.  A bomb goes off at Preston Community Church.

Which means that things are going to start off in the most exciting manner humanly possible: by hearing about Michael Murphy’s archeological adventures.

“…let me tell you the good news…”

I c wut u did thar, Tim LaHaye!

“They’ve found a piece of Moses’ Brazen Serpent.  The one King Hezekiah destroyed in Second Kings, Chapter Eighteen, Verse Four.”  There were a few gasps.  Clearly some people hadn’t heard the news.

And just as Tim LaHaye imagines how awesome it would be if some pastor was telling an entire congregation just how incredible and life-changing his Michael Murphy’s novels archeological discoveries are, Greg Dinallo realizes that there is a bomb in the basement, and decides to make it go off at a Significant Moment: to wit, just as Pastor Bob is saying of the Hebrews, “…they lost their faith…”

Bomb goes boom.

And Dinallo does a perfectly serviceable job of portraying the odd thoughts that go through a person’s mind during a sudden shocking moment:

…Murphy had time to wonder why Reverend Wagoner was flying through the air toward them before the thunder of the explosion hit…

 

The stained-glass windows imploded in a shower of red and gold…

Just like on The Tudors!

Murphy was on his feet and without thinking staggered toward the flames beginning to shoot up from the gaping hole behind the shattered pulpit.

Without thinking, indeed.  Hurry, Murph!  Towards the danger!

Then he remembers that 1) this situation is still dangerous and 2) oh yeah, his wife, and he and Laura get out of the church, already.

Murphy tells Laura that he doesn’t think the explosion was the boiler blowing up.  Given his extensive training and expertise in explosives, and all.  Or not.

Despite sitting in the front row, when the explosion seemed centered around the pulpit, Laura’s only complaints are that, “My knees are grazed and my elbow hurts a little…”

Murph seems entirely uninjured.  ‘Cause he’s a manly man.

Shari stumbles toward them, telling them that they have to find Paul.  She’s seen his car in the parking lot, and figures he must have gotten there early…and gone to the basement.  Because he’s a dumbass.

So, Murph, hero that he is, decides not to wait for the actual trained emergency personnel, and heads back into the church to get his research assistant’s conversion prospect out of there.

In the church, Murph comes across Pastor Bob.  Despite being practically on top of the blast, he has only broken his arm.  A woman granted only a first name (Jenny) is dead.  Murph sends Bob out (Ah, the classic, “Go, GO!  There’s nothing we can do for her!  GO!” moment)

Then Murphy gets what I assume the authors thought was a Crowning Moment of Awesome, but to me just comes across as a Crowning Moment of Goofy.  The blast ripped a hole in the floor behind the pulpit.  (Yeah, and Bob only has a broken arm.  Right.) 

So instead of climbing down or finding some damn stairs or something, Murphy jumps down the hole.

Let me repeat: he jumps from the first floor to the basement.  The floor of the basement, we are told, is concrete.

So, instead of being the hero of the hour by saving Paul, Murphy breaks both his ankles and lies there helpless until the real emergency personnel come to save him.

HA!  Just kidding. 

He landed in a crouch…shouting above the roar of the collapsing timbers, “Paul!  Can you hear me?  Paul!”

Murph magically finds Paul’s unconscious body, strangely not also finding the bodies of the three other people lying in the basement, dead or unconscious.  He staggers up the steps with Paul in his arms, and firemen break the door to the basement right off its hinges (why didn’t they just, yanno, open it?) just as Murphy reaches the top of the stairs.  Wow!

Also, wait, what?  The fireman knows Murphy’s name.   Why?