Caroline Glick wrote a review of my novel, "No Way In" at her site. Although a lot of people have liked (or disliked) the thriller aspect of the book, Caroline is one of the first to notice it's actually a religious and philosophical book tricked out as a cliffhanger. She picked out this passage:
I think," Alex said softly, "that all revolutions are about faith. In this case it's faith for its own sake, about religion without God. Yes, we are told there could be a paradise on earth. But we're not really convinced and we don't really care for as long as we have some religion and some paradise before us.
"This makes it a moral problem, because the paradise we don't really believe in has to be built with the bricks and mortar of people's lives. What everyone caught up in revolution wants to know is whether faith in Stalin or Mao or Antonio Moran Singson is enough to kill or be killed for? Because it would be really funny, now that we are talking about religion - now that it is clear that's what we are really talking about - to exchange Communism for Christianity and Trotsky for Moses. If you find your arms can't reach the heavens, what is the sense to worshipping a model in mud on the ground?"
"So what do you believe in, Alex?" Justine asked. "In the old ways?"
"In the unchanging ways, in the human condition. What condemns us to freedom is the chance that God might exist. And if salvation is real, then freedom is real too."
"Real freedom," Justine asked, "must include the right to choose slavery or even Hell, though I can't think of a good reason for anyone to choose it. Is that part of freedom?"
"It seems that deciding never to choose again is the one act that is forbidden to us," Alex said. "To do that would be to leave the circle of mankind forever."
Some might think its hard to discuss contemplative themes and still write something "so engaging that I ended up taking last Wednesday afternoon off to finish it" but the opposite is true. Part of the force of Hammett or Chandler's writing and the better Hollywood scripts consists precisely in the self-reflection of the characters. They are never more alive than when they realize they are part of a story and consider on their own parts and wonder.
One last reflection on storytelling. Perhaps the best metric of the worth of a book, to an author at least, is whether beyond the usual yardsticks of sales and reviews, you are glad you wrote it. I'm glad I wrote it.