Dylan Runs Ahead has had a tough life. He’s viewed with suspicion on the Indian reservation where he grew up. He blames himself when his beloved sister disappears suddenly, never to be seen again. When he enlists in the Army to serve as a bomb disposal expert in Iraq, his friend is killed and his leg horribly disfigured by an explosive.
And that’s just the back story of The Falling Away by T.L. Hines.
Set amidst the wide open plains of Montana, this new book follows Dylan as his life goes from bad to worse. The author captivates with action and suspense from the opening pages, and doesn’t relent until the climatic conclusion.
Much of the thrills surround a drug deal gone bad, and Dylan’s attempts to deal with those connected to the ill-fated transaction. To make matters worse, he is battling addition to the medications prescribed to help him manage the chronic pain of this injured limb, and guilt that torments his every waking moment.
Unknown to Dylan, spiritual forces are at work that are even more damaging than his physical and mental ailments. The author does a great job of increasing the sense of menace as the story progresses. The exploits are compelling, and his characters are vividly drawn. Hines has a terrific ear for dialogue, so the interaction between characters rings true.
The only issue that tempers my enthusiasm for The Falling Away is some of the theology underpinning the story. His portrayal of how demonic influence is combated doesn’t sync up with my reading of scripture. The exorcist of the story, a troubled young woman named Quinn, says that demons can’t typically be driven out, although the “infection” they spread can be cleansed. Contrast that depiction with the following:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
(Luke 10:17 ESV)
Quinn cannot drive out a demon in Jesus’ name. In fact, the name of Jesus does not even appear in The Falling Away at all, though in fairness it should be pointed out that the Savior and his sacrificial death are alluded to a time or two. Hines certainly addresses matters of faith throughout his story, but he renders the truths with a subtlety that many readers of Christian fiction may find unsatisfying.
Ultimately, I can heartily recommend The Falling Away for those looking for a thriller without the sensuality and depravity that characterize much of this genre. But there are better books to inform your understanding of demons and their influence. Chances are that even the author wouldn’t argue with that.