By George B. Kauffman
Wicked Gods by Eilis Leyne, Humanist Press, Washington, DC, 2013, paperback $18.95, ISBN 978-0-931779-45-9
While recent authors like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have written non-fiction books on the destructive hypocritical abuses of religion that often fuel global hatred and killing in the name of god, Wicked Gods addresses this controversial topic in the more accessible form of a sophisticated culture-war thriller. Leyne blends a mocking look at contemporary American politics with a wealth of factual details on various phenomena like spiritualism, human sacrifice, plural marriage, and ritual suicide. She skillfully examines religion and politics, atheism and evangelism, secularism and domestic terrorism, in twenty-first century America.
When her seismic expose of religious abuses lands on the best-seller list, Professor Mira Veron, the heroine of this fast-paced, engrossing novel, becomes a darling of the literati and a target for religious extremists and culture warriors alike. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband scheming to undermine her, her opportunistic agent attempting to cash in on her name, and a seductive born-again assassin tracking her every move, she meets up with a publishing tycoon who is guarding a volatile secret. She is drawn into an underground network by the promise of cataclysmic religious revelations only to watch as her new associates mysteriously die one by one. Under siege by forces seen and unseen, she embarks on a desperate quest for answers. Now she must choose between defending her work and defending her life.
Eilís Leyne is the pen name of an author whose non-fiction works have appeared in more than a dozen publications, including the Christian Science Monitor and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Having written two well-received non-fiction books, Wicked Gods is her debut novel. She has appeared on National Public Radio, the USA Radio Network, and the Westwood One Radio Network, among other media appearances.
George B. Kauffman, Ph.D., chemistry professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno and Guggenheim Fellow, is recipient of the American Chemical Society’s George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach, and Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, and numerous domestic and international honors. In 2002 and 2011, he was appointed a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society, respectively.