Thursday, September 20, 2012

"The Trinity Game"

Sean Chercover is the author of the novels Big City, Bad Blood, Trigger City, and The Trinity Game, as well as short stories that have appeared in a number of anthologies. His work has received the Anthony, Shamus, CWA Dagger, Dilys, Crimespree, Gumshoe and Lovey awards, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar, MacAvity, Barry, ITW Thriller and Arthur Ellis.

Chercover applied the Page 69 Test to The Trinity Game and reported the following:
Daniel Byrne is an investigator for the Vatican’s secretive Office of the Devil’s Advocate—the department that scrutinizes miracle claims. Over ten years and 721 cases, not one miracle he tested has proved true.

But case #722 is different. Daniel’s estranged uncle, a crooked TV evangelist named Tim Trinity, has started speaking in tongues—and seems to be accurately predicting the future. Having been raised by Trinity on the tent revival circuit, Daniel knows his uncle is a con man, and is familiar with his tricks. The Vatican sends Daniel to Atlanta with orders to debunk Trinity hard.

When we reach page 69, Daniel has just learned that Trinity’s predictions are always accurate, and has come to Trinity’s television studio church to confront him…
Daniel sat in the back row, taking it all in. He had to admit, his uncle wasn’t just good—he was a master. He’d seen many talented grifters at work on the tent revival circuit, many more preaching on television. But nobody owned the stage like Tim Trinity.

Trinity let the silence linger, then flipped a page of his blue Bible, which sat before him on the lectern. When he spoke, his voice boomed to the rafters. “Jesus said—Matthew 13:45—‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.’”

He scooped up the Bible, grinned out at the crowd, and scratched his head in mock confusion. “One pearl of great value? Now just what the heck is he talkin’ about?”

The audience laughed easily.

“The pearl, my friends, is salvation. Salvation is the pearl of the highest value.” Trinity started pacing the stage as a handful of Amens came up from the crowd. “But some of you are like the rich man who came to Jesus and asked what good deed he must do to get into heaven. You remember the one. The man was already virtuous, kept all of God’s laws, so Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and become a disciple. And the rich man went away, grieving, for he had many possessions. What he failed to understand—and what y’all need to understand—is that spiritual salvation brings with it all the material wealth you could ever hope for! Salvation is—always and in all ways—the pearl of great value. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his seat, thinking: Here it comes
At that point, Tim Trinity begins his money pitch, promising financial miracles in the lives of those who sow their seed of faith by giving to his television ministry.

A couple pages into the scene, Trinity launches into tongues, which seems more like an epileptic fit than a performance, and which unnerves Daniel. And we see the crowd reaction. We get the feeling that something big is happening here. Yes, Trinity is a con man, but could he also be something more? We get a feel for the stakes involved, we start to understand the strong motive for those powerful groups who want to silence Trinity before the world learns of his power.

So that entire scene is, I think, a good representation of the book. But ignoring the rest of the scene, is Page 69 representative of the book? That’s for you to decide.
Learn more about the book and author at Sean Chercover's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue