The Sixth Station by Linda Stasi is a thriller involving international politics, terrorism, and a charismatic and potentially deadly, religious leader (available January 22, 2013).
The Sixth Station is a fascinating and entertaining book . . . and will keep you guessing even after you’ve read the final page.
There’s a big story at the United Nations and due to the close proximity and her previous experience as a war correspondent, Alessandra Russo of The Standard gets a prime assignment: covering the tribunal of Demiel ben Yusef, the man considered by many as the worst terrorist in world and by others as the son of the Son of God.
And, of course, that’s just the beginning.
Alessandra and her fellow reporter Dona Grimm join the pulsating crowd of people trying to glimpse ben Yusef. Due to their great press credentials, they’re pushed to the front and wind up being directly beside where ben Yusef’s prison wagon stops and unloads him. As he passes by, the enigmatic terrorist/savior pauses long enough to kiss Alessandra. That single kiss, which is captured by Dona and other journalists and sent around the world, puts Alessandra on a journey she can’t control or end until she reaches the truth.
This is an action-packed book, made more entertaining by the fact that we experience everything just as Alessandra does. She is appalled to learn that she—an agnostic journalist—has been chosen to deliver the message of Demiel ben Yusef’s birth and ministry.
I have to admit I began reading this a little skeptically because there have been so many books of this ilk since Dan Brown had such a hit with The Da Vinci Code. I was rewarded, however, with an interesting book that led me once again to search out the facts presented and speculate that the fiction was completely believable. It also left me laughing with the jolts of humor that popped up occasionally like this description of Dona: “a die-hard New Age born-again Baptist, despite the fact that she had the body of a stripper and the hair of a supermodel.”
After this incredible experience Alessandra completes her assignment, which is completely rewritten by her editor. When she angrily complains, she loses her job and decides it’s time to be an investigative reporter and dig up all she can on ben Yusef.
This is not an easy read for a lazy afternoon. You’ll have to be on your toes to catch every little nuance and foreshadowing in the story. Like Alessandra, you’ll lean on the mantra, “Trust no one,” as you move through the hazardous trip that is her path to enlightenment and understanding.
Alessandra’s investigative journey begins with a “chance” meeting with a priest at a church not far from her apartment. His pronouncements leave her speechless, well, not exactly, nothing leaves Alessandra speechless. Let’s just say they leave her in shock.
“Are you kidding? You, not your friend—you—were picked out of all the millions of people yesterday by ben Yusef himself.”
“Yeah, well tell that to my boss. My ex-boss, I mean. I was picked by a mass murderer as his—what?—girlfriend? My luck— it’s the first time a man ever picked me over Dona. That special pick cost me plenty.”
“Not as much as you’ll gain from it.”
“Huh? No disrespect, Father, but I don’t get you. The guy’s a damned terrorist killer and, just for starters? He particularly hates your religion. That doesn’t bother you? And don’t tell me ‘Turn the other cheek.’”
“No? Why not? Isn’t that what my religion is based upon?”
“May I remind you of the Crusades?”
“Yes. Terrible. Many fought back. Kept relics out of the hands of the infidels….”
I continued as though I hadn’t heard him: “I certainly don’t want to tell you your business, but Jesus was an itinerate preacher whose death went unmarked at first. No? Do you honestly think somebody chopped that one cross to make souvenirs? I’m sure they crucified fifty more guys on it before it got used for firewood.”
Sadowski grinned. “O ye of little faith . . .”
“That’s the second time I’ve heard that in two days.”
“Maybe third time’s the charm?”
“No,” I chided back, before the conversation turned serious again. “I don’t try to get you to play for my side, do I?”
“Okay, okay, you’re right. But no matter what your religion, you will admit that Jesus died for all of us. For all of our sins.”
“Maybe He died for yours,” I said, getting annoyed now. “But I wasn’t born thousands of years ago, so you can’t peg that on me. And maybe He died for His own sins. Ever think of that?”
Sadowski looked genuinely pained by my sarcasm. He stiffened and just said, “Let me ask you another hypothetical. What if this man, this ben Yusef, actually did turn out to be a new Jesus. Would you believe it then?”
I stared at him. “I think you need to seek professional help. You sound nuts.”
I can’t tell you any more because there’s no way to summarize such a stunning plot. All I can say is you’ll enjoy reading it and wonder about the outcome until the last word on the page. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work, recently had a short story published in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices, and is a contributor to the blog WomenofMystery.net. She and her collaborator, Jan Powell, have a book, Second Nature by Neely Powell, coming out next spring.