Review

The Sign

by Raymond Khoury

Raymond Khoury has made an impressive name for himself in the
relative short span of two novels, THE LAST TEMPLAR and THE
SANCTUARY. One can count on him to keep things moving from first
page to last by setting a number of different storylines in motion
that converge toward each other until meeting in an explosive and
memorable climax. Khoury’s latest effort continues with that
tradition.

THE SIGN deftly and expertly switches among three different
locales --- Antarctica, Egypt, and Boston, Massachusetts ---
drawing seemingly disparate events closer together while slowly
revealing their common threads. In Antarctica, a television news
crew on hand to film the breaking of an ice shelf, thought by some
to be caused by global warming, witnesses and captures an image of
the manifestation of a mysterious, almost indescribable glowing
visual phenomenon --- the sign --- that is practically blinding in
its intensity and believed to be like nothing seen before. The
spectacle is so breathtaking that almost immediately the phenomenon
becomes a worldwide sensation, one that is felt in many quarters to
be divine in origin.

Meanwhile, an enigmatic holy man, known to the world as Father
Jerome, is living quietly in Egypt among one of the world’s
oldest monastic colonies. His solitary and prayerful existence,
however, is about to be interrupted, perhaps forever, by the
revelation that he has some foreknowledge of the phenomenon as
well.

And in Boston, an ex-convict named Matt Sherwood, who is still
mourning the death of his brother two years previously, suddenly
finds himself embroiled in a controversy that is either
mankind’s greatest hope or greatest swindle when he begins
asking too many of the wrong questions of the wrong people. When
the murder of his brother’s best friend is pinned on him, the
police are the least of his worries. A team of highly trained
operatives that seems to be everywhere at once is pursuing Sherwood
through the streets of Boston, and his only ally appears to be a
highly knowledgeable IT specialist who, tech abilities
notwithstanding, has few skills that are transferable to a
firefight. However, Sherwood eventually gains an unlikely ally, one
who has an unexpected connection to the glowing manifestation that
has captured the world’s attention.

Father Jerome is the object of media and public attention that
he neither desires nor wishes, even as his very existence threatens
to trigger a new round in the holy wars already raging around him.
When he reluctantly accepts an invitation from a televangelist to
journey to Houston, Texas, for a historic religious gathering ---
and a hopeful manifestation of the sign --- he sets a chain of
events into play that will almost assuredly result in
catastrophe.

THE SIGN has its moments when it veers off track into a treatise
on controversial subject matter. What is interesting here is that
at least one set of villains seems to hold the same views as the
author, with a tacit “the devil made me do it”
justification for their actions. Unfortunately it doesn’t
completely work; neither does the editorializing in which the
omnipresent narrator engages to a far-too-frequent extent, to the
occasional derailing of the storyline. If you can slide past those
shortcomings, however, and take THE SIGN for what it is at its core
--- a thriller that easily races from the page to your eye at a
page a minute --- you will find it well worth your time.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

The Sign
by Raymond Khoury

  • Publication Date: March 30, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451228200
  • ISBN-13: 9780451228208