Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Book of Days" by James L Rubart

Book of Days
… in Your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being." —Psalm 139:16 Young Cameron Vaux’s mind is slipping. Memories of his wife, killed two years earlier in a car accident, are vanishing just as his dad predicted they would. Memories he knows he has to remember. His father tells Cameron that to save his mind he must find "the book with all days in it" —the past and future record of every soul on earth. When an obscure clue leads Cameron to a small central Oregon town, he meets enigmatic Taylor Stone, a possible guide to finding the book who seems to carry secrets far deeper than anyone imagines. Local hotshot TV personality Ann Bannister thinks the legend of the book is a farce, but she has her reasons to join Cameron’s search anyway. Finally, there is fanatical New Age guru Jason Judah, who will stop at nothing to find the book of days before Cameron does. 

Psalm 139: 16 tells us that our days were all recorded in God's Book of Days before any of them came to be. The idea of the physical existence of such a book, with past, present and future histories of every man and woman written in it, is fascinating. As the characters in this story search for such a book, I was looking forward to getting stuck into it.

There is an Indiana Jones quest type feeling about it from the very start. The hero, Cameron Vaux, believes his wife and father found it when they young, but both have passed away. Cameron's father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease at a freakishly young age, and now Cameron feels his own memories slipping away at the tender age of 32. He enlists the help of Ann Banister, the foster sister of his dead wife, Jessie, to help him locate the Book.

Two men in their late fifties were the most intriguing characters. Jason Judah, the town's spiritual leader, has an intense, manic sort of desire to find this Book. Taylor Stone has had a history of a Midas touch since he was a High School boy, leading many to believe he knows more about the Book than he ever lets on. Interestingly, these two, who were childhood best friends, have a long history of enmity.

For the first half of the story, clues were as subtle as mosquitoes landing. Characters were acting as if they were going to reveal something significant, and at the end of each exchange, I wondered how they wriggled out of saying anything at all. I kept reading on, knowing there would be a big reveal at the end, but if I'd been in Cameron's shoes, I probably would have packed up and gone home. Maybe he was used to dealing with elusive people. The flashbacks of his talks with his wife, Jessie, before her death, showed her to be just as slippery.

The part which deals with the Book of Days was worth waiting for. I really liked the way the predestination/free choice conundrum was addressed in this story. And the humorous dialogue and ready dry wit of the characters, particularly Cameron and Taylor, made it fun to read. The red herring was pretty funny too.

4 stars

Book of Days: A Novel

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