Putnam, Sept 2003, 23.95, 240 pp.
Matt Kelly fell in love with Anna Damiani from almost the first time he saw her but her stepfather, real estate mogul Carl Barrett thought he wasn't good for her. He forced Anna to break up with Matt in high school but when they met up in Princeton they started seeing each other again until her alcoholism drove them apart. He went on to become a teacher in Harlem and she drank her way around the world until she joined the Imperium Luminis, dried out and turned her life around.
Anna visits Matt to ask him to join a sect that is a part of the Catholic Church. The order actively recruits wealthy members and helps the poor and the sick. Carl contacts David because he believes that the Imperium Luminis is a cult that he wants to free Anna from them and get her deprogrammed. From his own research, David agrees with Anna's stepfather and pretends to join the organization in order to spirit Anna away from them. It is when Matt sees what good the order does for people he begins to have doubts about his role in Anna's life.
EMPIRE OF LIGHT is a powerful, compelling and illuminating tale about real people searching for answers in an indifferent, at times, dangerous world. The author questions, through the actions of his protagonist, whether the end justifies the means. Readers start to wonder what is the difference between a cult and an organized religious sect. Neither question is answered in this novel but by raising them it makes this work of psychological suspense an outstanding reading experience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner