My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Conservative religious readers will find much to offend them in On the Fifth Day, but readers who don’t mind opposing viewpoints will find much to like here. This isn’t a perfect novel, nor even a very serious one, but it does spin out an interesting international adventure with a protagonist who is less than leading man material.
Thomas Knight learns that he’s lost his teaching job, and his brother, Father Ed, on the same dismal day. While collecting his brother’s belongings, Thomas tries to determine the cause of death, but no one’s talking. He pokes around a bit, only to draw the attention of Homeland Security. Now Thomas is mad, and sets off to solve this mystery.
Thomas discovers that Father Ed was researching ancient Christian iconography, putting symbols together in ways that threatened the powers that be. As Thomas delves deeper, various bureaucracies throw stumbling blocks and professional assassins (with preposterous names) in his path. At this point in the story, it becomes necessary to “go with the flow”, because as with most books in the genre, the incredible escapes and coincidences pile higher and deeper. But it’s a fun adventure written with intelligence, and when the action shifts to Pompey and the Philippines, it becomes truly engrossing.