I read Dream On by Erik Carter in an advance copy form. I was happy that I did not find typos and evidence of poor editing as is sometimes the case with advance copies. I was even more happy that this was a pleasant read with an interesting premise that held my attention throughout the novel. Carter points out in a beginning author note that the novel centers around a controversial religious theory and the author points out a source for further research. As I began to read, I expected that there would be some huge religious-based revelation that would produce chaos across cultures. But there is more to it than that.
Perhaps the revelation is manufactured, a form of propaganda, the ultimate in fake news. Who would produce such a thing and to what purpose? This entertaining story then departs into investigations of the methodology developed by dark forces. Competing agencies of the government deceive each other. Bosses deceive their underlings. No one really knows who anyone else is. A colleague may be a colleague … or not. There are many levels of deception that will entertain readers who enjoy this genre, as I do.
The novel has a steady supply of minor surprises that lead the reader along at a brisk pace. There is a big surprise that ties a lot of stuff together and I won’t write of that as it would be a spoiler. But I was a bit disappointed that I saw it coming when I encountered what I thought was a too obvious clue. If you didn’t figure it out, go back and look through chapters 25 to 32. It is somewhere in those chapters (see, no spoiler). I like my clues to be a bit subtler and for that reason, I gave the novel four amazon stars.
For amateur historians, readers will meet Dale Conly, an agent for the BEI (Bureau of Esoteric Investigations) a covert agency under the DOJ (Department of Justice). Conly gives a crash course to his new temporary partner Gillian Spiro about Roman, Jewish, and Christian history. Amateur historians with more than a passing interest in Conly’s explanations might be tempted to read further historical works.
Conly drives a supremely male over-the-top and almost unbelievable studly car which he requires for all his missions. Cash-strapped government agencies must have appreciated the expenses for that. At least he didn’t demand private jets. And Gillian is a drop-dead jaw-droppingly overly sexual (but cold as ice) partner to Conly. There is no sex. Nothing. Nada. (I don’t consider this a spoiler; it is a reassurance that no one should expect to be offended).
This is a solidly entertaining story for a weekend read. The premise alone sets it apart from usual who-done-it mysteries.