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A call for plot creativity, or, Why is it always the Christians?

This weekend I finished up reading Rules of Deception, the latest novel by Christopher Reich. I have read all of Reich’s novels and quite enjoy them; he does the spy/crime/legal thriller genre as well as most anybody out there right now. I had one real disappointment with the book, though (and OK, this is a bit of a spoiler, so be forewarned): the true evil villain, the mastermind who is willing to kill hundreds of people to accomplish his nefarious goals, is a “born-again”, “evangelical Christian”.

Now, I realize Dan Brown made it cool to rip on Christians and the church with The DaVinci Code, indeed, it seems nearly de rigueur these days to have Christians as the bad guys. And certainly as an author Mr. Reich is allowed to make whatever plot choices he wants to. He’s very even-handed with his other groups of people – there are good and bad CIA agents, good and bad Iranians, good and bad Americans, and etc, in his plot. But Christians? They’re all bad. And shadowy. And in lock-step. And willing to do anything, kill anyone, incite nuclear war, all for the purpose of “hastening the Rapture”. Ugh.

As I’ve been thinking about it, this is one of the reasons that Tom Clancy, one of the better authors in this genre a decade ago, had such good stories: he was willing to use the real-life bad-guys of the day and didn’t feel any politically-correct need to pick somebody else. Hence, during the Cold War, the Soviets were the bad guys, even though there were some good Soviets among them (The Hunt for Red October, The Cardinal of the Kremlin). Once the Wall fell and the new fear was Islamic Fundamentalism, Clancy went with it. In The Sum of All Fears there are good Muslims and bad Muslims, good Jews and bad Jews, heck, good Americans and bad Americans. But Clancy never felt the need to invent some other bad guys just to be politically correct.

So I enjoyed Rules of Deception, and I’m sure I’ll read Mr. Reich’s next book when it comes out. But I can’t help but wish that he’d take a more realistic look at the world when he does. Maybe a little more plot creativity next time?

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