Monday, October 7, 2013

Supernatural Christianity

Title: The Dogs of Snoqualmie
By: Calvin Miller
Genre: Suspense/Thriller, Christian
Where I bought it: Lifeway
342pp B&H Publishing $6.40 (

I bought The Dogs of Snoqualmie at Lifeway, a Christian bookstore. The price was reduced to $3.25 and I can never resist a bargain. Plus, I’ve never really read a book where Christianity was the theme, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

In The Dogs of Snoqualmie, a killer is on the loose and is targeting executive women who are homosexuals. Each victim has had their throats torn out by what can only be a large dog or even a wolf.
In the midst of the investigation, several stories come together. There’s Paul and Rhonda Shapiro, the psychiatrist and his wife. All characters have a connection with Dr. Shapiro.

First, Rhonda comes across a wounded dog that she later discovers is actually a wolf. She keeps him as a pet even though all of Seattle is looking for a dog of his description. She is convinced that her pet, Kinta, is not the ravenous killer. 

Then there’s a priest, Father Peter, that is elderly and has begun suffering from dementia. Dr. Shapiro admits him to a psyche-ward and sees him periodically. Dr Shapiro doesn’t know it, but Father Peter’s visions are real and foretell the events about to occur.

Joanna Nickerson is the reverend at the Pathway of Light Cathedral. A vehicle hits her young daughter, Janie, when she darts out into the road. The driver of the vehicle is psychiatrist, Paul Shapiro.

President and CEO of the lumber company Pacific Woods, Levi Twist, sees Dr. Shapiro as a patient suffering from deep depression. He becomes furious when Dr. Shapiro tells him it’s time for him to move past the death of his wife. He cuts him off from anti-depressants to push Levi forward.

Levi’s girlfriend, Della, is Dr. Shapiro’s receptionist. When she becomes pregnant, she pressures Levi to marry her.

Isletta Borg is the owner of the last 10,000 acre tract of land Pacific Woods needs in order to start cutting down trees. However, no amount of money will convince her to part with it. Her Gaian beliefs lead her clear away from it.

Eric Compton is the successful lawyer at Pacific Woods who has been bulldozing any barriers lying in the way of the company goals. Inside, Eric adores the wilderness and his internal battle is soon relieved when he falls in love unexpectedly and to a degree he could never imagine possible.

There’s also Gary Jarvis, the investigator who has identified Dr. Shapiro (and possibly Rhonda) as the killer(s). He believes Dr. Shapiro has trained the wolf to do his dirty work. 

All roads and complications lead all characters to Isletta’s 10,000-acre tract of land for a demonstration sit-in to keep Pacific Woods from clearing the forested area. Everything comes to a head and the mystery of the serial killer is solved.

Calvin Miller
The suspense building in this book was very good. I must commend the author, editors, and publisher for their way of telling the story. It was definitely suspenseful and very well set up. 

There’s only one thing I felt was left out. Why did the antagonist target homosexual, executive women? The reason is not forwardly revealed. The only explanation I can cite is when the character says, “Now Dell, a lot of these women are sick with corporate power. Sick.” (Ch. 18, Pg. 131)

The reader could make the assumption the character was driven by his hate for the women that perhaps make him feel inadequate, women who have no sexual interest in him, or women who intimidate him. This would build on his character traits of arrogance and disregard for emotions and the human race.

At the same time, it could be something entirely different. Dare I say it? Is it a subtle notion that the author believes Christianity is so against homosexuality that he offs them in his writing? Because of the supernatural occurrences toward the end of the book, I could also surmise the opposite. Is it possible the author believes God makes sure evil-doers meet their demise? The evil doers, of course, being this serial killer, leaving the homosexual women as purely innocent victims who are indeed protected by God. I guess only Mr. Miller knows the answer to that. For my own wellness, I’ll stick with the first explanation. Perhaps you should read it to weigh in on the situation. Please offer your opinions in the comment section.

Comments from An Editor:
Given that Mr. Miller has written a full series (granted, one I’ve never read), I am forced to make the assumption that this book didn’t start as the mess I imagine it to have been before editing. I say that because this book has many characters and many avenues that come together very nicely.

There were two misspellings that I identified, both occurring within the first few chapters of the book. The error was the use of the word “though” when “through” was needed. One last proofread would have caught it.

From what I could ascertain, the editors must have used the Associated Press stylebook for editing along with a few in-house rules. For example, there were sentences that started with conjunctions. There were also several participial phrases that lacked a comma. These errors were consistent through the book, so I gathered they must be from in-house rules.

Regardless, I can imagine how difficult it must have been to organize the telling of this story because of the many characters and lives that were brought together.

One Last Comment: 
There were several occurrences in this book that made me cock an eyebrow. What I mean by that is there were things that happened that were very unbelievable and very unrealistic. When I come across such things, I immediately think that the author has run out of creative juices and is desperate to tie things up and has done so generically. Aside from these unrealistic things, I believe the book was enjoyable. I’ve given it a rating of three (3) pages out of five (5).

Author Bio (from Amazon):
Calvin Miller has written over 40 books of popular theology and inspiration. A former pastor, he is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He and his wife, Joyce, have two grown children.

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