Daniel Byrne is a man who’s spent his entire adult life looking for a miracle. Raised by his con man uncle, Reverend Tim Trinity, after his parents died, Daniel grew up truly believing in the power of faith as evidenced by the miracles he witnessed at his uncle’s traveling tent revivals. Until he was old enough to begin questioning, that is.
Daniel was barely into his early teens when he learned his uncle was a sham and the miracles he performed were staged. The discovery was devastating, and drove Daniel from his uncle’s house and into another, the Lord’s. Presenting himself as an orphan at a Catholic Church, Daniel started down the path to priesthood, and a lifelong quest to truly believe again.
Working as an investigator for the Office of the Devil’s Advocate, the Vatican’s secret branch whose members are tasked with investigating claims of miraculous happenings, Daniel is presented with his most challenging case yet…investigating the Reverend Tim Trinity, now a highly successful televangelist working out of Atlanta. Apparently Trinity has begun speaking in tongues during his sermons, and when played backwards at two thirds speed it becomes clear that Trinity is uttering prophecies on everything from the outcome of sporting events (including exact scores), to crippling traffic jams, to natural disasters. And he’s never wrong.
When CNN breaks the story millions of believers flock to Atlanta, eager to hear the prophecies of the “new Messiah” firsthand. The church is obviously not interested in competition, so Daniel is dispatched from Rome to debunk the Trinity Phenomenon. After all, who better to debunk the supposed miracle than a priest who’s never certified one in ten years of investigation and who’s carrying a serious grudge against a man he knows to be a fraud?
Despite being built around an obviously religious premise, author Sean Chercover’s The Trinity Game is actually not a book that hits the reader over the head with religion. At its heart The Trinity Game is part mystery (is the Trinity Phenomenon real?) and part thriller (the church isn’t the only group interested inTrinity; the mob, government, and a shadow organization known as the Fleur-de-Lis Foundation all also have a stake in controlling – or silencing – Trinity), with a dash of romance thrown in (Daniel must deal with a journalist he dated prior to entering the seminary, which rekindles his interest in having a relationship and further undermines his already shaky faith).
Chercover keeps the plot moving along at a pace that belies the book’s 400+ page length, perfectly balancing the action sequences with those in which Daniel reflects on and struggles with his conflicting desires: to reconcile with his uncle, or continue their twenty-five year estrangement; to prove Trinity a fraud, or actually discover a true miracle; to recommit himself to his faith, or leave the priesthood and pursue a relationship. Daniel’s struggles with these issues makes him a very believable and sympathetic protagonist; he is not polished and perfect. Similarly, while initially depicted as the stereotypical smooth talking, slick looking televangelist, Trinity actually undergoes an interesting transformation during the course of the story, finding himself every bit at a crossroads as Daniel with regard to his faith, albeit from a different angle.
Indeed, Chercover has written that all too often elusive creature: a thriller that actually has depth as well as a fast-paced, exciting plot.
The Trinity Game is available from Thomas & Mercer (ISBN: 978-1612183183).