Series: Numbers #1
Published by Center Point on December 1, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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Bret and Sara Vreeland have been targeted. Someone has plans for them -- a plot that reaches into their past and threatens their future. When one of Sara's patients dies, the mysterious old man leaves his fortune to her and her family. They have no idea they are part of an experiment. Satan once tested Job through trials, but failed to break him. Now Satan has sought God's permission to test the Vreelands with a six million dollar blessing.
As the Vreelands' lives take turn for the better, will their souls take a turn for the worse?
Thousands of years ago, a wager in heaven centered on the soul of one man. Virtually overnight, the man blessed with plenty saw his life crumble before his eyes as wealth, health, and even family were stripped from him. Yet Job’s faith in God emerged even stronger and his story as served as inspiration for every believer dealing with the problem of evil and suffering. Now, the devil’s wager is much more potent and insidious. In a grand reversal, one family will get everything they want, and the old rhetorical question of Jesus will be tested: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
Bret and Sara Vreeland are like a number of middle class families in America: blessed but struggling. In a land of plenty where even the poor are better off than most of the world it is hard to complain, but Bret and Sara often wonder when or if God will reward their faithfulness with the ability to not have to live paycheck to paycheck. Their pastor has been preaching that God gives to those who give and who follow faithfully. Yet at the same time Bret’s boss lives a lavish lifestyle despite his indifference to all matters spiritual.
Then comes an answer to prayer: one of Sara’s patients mysteriously leaves his entire fortune to her. Six million dollars. Not Bill Gates, but not terrible either. But with the fortune comes consequences. A shadowy figure has been lurking about the Vreeland family, intent on exposing the dark secrets of the past. As the plot progresses, the Vreelands become to come apart at the seams—their newfound wealth creates new conflict as the secrets of their past open up old wounds.
For those familiar with Eric Wilson only through his epic Jerusalem’s Undead trilogy, One Step Away is a change of pace and style—but one that Wilson also excels at. In a style reminiscent of his Aramis Black mysteries (and with a secondary character one might remember), Wilson weaves another mystery in with relevant spiritual themes to create a twist you won’t see coming and a few spiritual principles you won’t forget.
Wilson tackles the health-and-wealth prosperity gospel hard in his novel, deftly asking the question of whether God rewards faithfulness with financial success. The Vreelands history, and their respective thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about that history, shape the novel and make it a very character-driven book. With threats to the Vreeland family coming from within and without, Wilson has created a novel that engages the reader on two fronts—combining a page-turning Story with a thought-provoking theme.
It’s been labeled as a sort of “suburban suspense,” a description I’d call quite apt. Even though it contains some extraordinary plot points—a sudden gift of a cool six mil and the creepy villain Magnus Maggart—it is centered around themes of middle class issues such as family and financial struggles. One Step Away is Eric doing thematically what he does best—carefully interwoven Biblical themes and casually interconnected storylines amid an explosive and page-turning story.