A relaxing weekend with her husband and newly adopted son is all Gillian Thayer expects as they check into Sabbath Resort and Conference Center. What she finds instead is a highly controversial meeting of a Bible translation committee, a group of protestors, and a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as a template for his murderous revenge. The tension only increases as Gillian’s husband, Marc, finds his friend dead and surrounded by frogs, and as Gillian herself runs into her old boyfriend, Gabriel, who is one of the protestors. As people die with each ensuing plague, Gillian fears losing her new son and struggles to forgive Gabriel for his past actions and establish a proper relationship.
Sammy, an autistic boy, often frustrates his mother, Lacey, by his lack of communication and his frequent disappearances and odd behaviours. When he begins to apparently predict each plague in his drawings, Lacey begins to fear that he is somehow involved.
Will the murderer be found? What was the disaster that sent him on this path? Who will be the final victim, the one killed by the tenth plague? What does Sammy know? The Tenth Plague asks and finally answers these questions and more in a story centred on trust, faith, and forgiveness.
I began reading The Tenth Plague expecting a clean, tasteful Christian thriller, and I was not at all disappointed. Under the twisting, mysterious current of the main plot, Blumer deals with difficult, adult topics, yet in a careful, non-explicit manner that never violates the reader. Wrong is wrong and right is right in this novel. In addition, while the book was delightfully tense, it never grew to be more than I could handle, nor did Blumer go overboard in his description of the carnage that a thriller necessarily entails.
Blumer’s writing strength in The Tenth Plague lies in his vivid characterization. His character arcs are colourful and realistic, full of the tension called for in a thriller. I found myself on the edge of my seat, rooting for Gillian, Marc, and little Sammy. The closer I came to the end, the faster I read, pulled along by the escalating tension and hoping that the next page turn would see them all safe and sound. I was particularly impressed by Blumer’s characterization of Sammy. Having worked with and done some research on autistic children, I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy with which Sammy’s actions, and even emotions, were portrayed. I’m sure it would be extremely difficult to write from the point of view of an autistic character, yet it is in Sammy’s scenes that Blumer’s craft really shines.
While the book as a whole was an excellent read, I was a little disappointed by the first chapter, which was heavy on exposition and often choppy. In addition, the first few chapters featuring Gillian and Marc seemed to start rather slowly for a thriller. Having had previously read another book by this author, I was willing to push through the slow beginning to get to the meat of the story. However, a reader without my past experience may not have the desire to do so. I think Blumer could have benefited by starting further along into the Thayers’ story.
The Tenth Plague is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers in their mid-teens and up. While an excellent thriller, it is not the type of book to keep its reader awake all night in fear. The plot and characterization rivets the reader to his seat, while the subtle themes interwoven throughout cause him to think about trust, faith, and forgiveness. By the end of the novel, the reader may very well, with Gillian, thank God “for being a God who never lets go.”
Published on 24 June, 2014. Last updated on