Roy Owen, a business executive, goes to Lakemore to find out what happened to his still-missing wife who disappeared while working on a story involving the Eternal Church of the Believer, a secretive mega-church with a huge campus, a mansion, dormitories and executive offices. Row Owen is a businessman whose wife decided to take up journalism. She was working on an unassigned story about the mega-curch when she disappeared into thin air. Roy wants to know what happened to her so he goes down there and stays at the same motel she did, and begins retracing her steps to see if he can get more information about what happened. The police have gotten nowhere, and her trail is cold when her rental car is found in the airport parking lot where she never boarded the plane.
Enter the characters of the Eternal Church of the Believer, the elder founder who now has Alzheimer's, his two grown children who now run the church he built from nothing, and the assorted deacons who help run the business. As the story progresses, unbeknownst to our protagonist, we find that the church higher ups have secrets, and lots of them. One has a thing for young girls, another is having an affair with the wife of one of the deacons, another is siphoning off money from the donations and yet another is into blackmail.
Throughout the story, as Roy questions everyone who had met his wife, including the woman who owns the motel for whom Roy eventually develops feelings for, to the strange man she hired to drive her to the mega-church, he gets no closer to finding out what happened to his wife, but a creepy picture of the church emerges as we learn more about the players.
Suddenly his wife's body is found and everyone shifts into gear. The church does PR to stop people from looking at them and possibly discovering their secrets, and the church's higher-ups start turning on each other. Slowly the police, Roy and a reporter for the same publication his wife worked for, uncover the mess that is the mega-church and manage to discover who killed his wife and why.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was interesting to see the inner workings of a mega-church, how they manipulate people to rope them in and how they use religion to ensure they stay there.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Doreen's mother, a member of the church who sent her daughter there to be safe and grow up religiously, discovers her daughter is in a relationship with a higher-up old enough to be her father, and she confronts him and leaves him hanging as to whether she will say something to her daughter or not. She ends up praying with him in the motel and trashes him to God.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Roy somewhat because he was genuinely trying to find out what happened to his wife, but he was rather passive in his investigation.