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Father of Lies Hardcover – October, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows; First Edition edition (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568581165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568581163
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's not easy to tell in this psychological chiller whether Provost Eldon Fochs is a recipient of the devil's attention or a criminal psychopath with delusions. In the end, it doesn't matter. Evenson's disturbing first novel addresses what he calls "a problem common in a wide range of religions." That is, a church leadership that exploits the ambiguity of religious phraseology and its own assumed purity to shield corruption. The highest authorities of the Church of the Blood of the Lamb are well aware that one of their provosts is committing sexual crimes against children. When psychotherapist Alexander Feshtig, whose clinical account of Fochs's "disturbances" open the book, attempts to bring the provost to justice, he discovers what it means to go up against a self-righteous organization. So do the mothers of the victimized children. Through alternating first-person chapters, Fochs emerges as a man with no remorse and a narcissistic thirst for demeaning others. Yet rather than being censured by his church, he's protected. He's even included on a committee sitting in judgment of him, because he's presumed innocent and therefore eligible. All the while, a strange man known to the reader only as Bloody Head makes all the right things happen for him in return for certain loathsome favors. Evenson's allegory of blind religious obedience is a shocking account of a predator expert in the "soul murder" of the vulnerable, a villain who relies on the church to abet his crimes. Given Evenson's well-publicized expulsion from the faculty of Brigham Young University (after the publication of his 1994 story collection, Altmann's Tongue), his scary fictional treatment of church hypocrisy has the feeling of a reasoned attack on blind religious obedience.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Volkswagen Blues on February 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My experience of this novel was more than colored by the fact that I paid close attention to Evenson's professorial career in the immediate wake of the publication of his fine and controversial collection of short stories, "Altmann's Tongue" (for which he was practically hounded into leaving the university at which he was then teaching). "Father of Lies" is, among other things, a pretty clear and pretty ad hominem attack on certain members of the administration at a certain private and religious university in Utah, and I think that the novel pulls up a bit short due to its unbridled bitterness (even if it's fun to match psychotic characters with their real-life near-namesakes, as one might do when reading, say, "Primary Colors" by Anonymous). Some reviewers have admired the anger evident in the prose; I think it whittled characters down to fewer dimensions than are needed in what sets out to be a critique of the abuse of power in religious communities.
"Father of Lies" is really well-plotted and I was unable to put it down once I started reading. Despite the reservations I mentioned above, it really is an engrossing read; the tension builds nicely and climaxes well, if a bit brutally (but we expect no less from an author unafraid of disturbing his audience, in the tradition of Kafka). My biggest worry is that certain aspects of the novel make it difficult to accept as a functional critique in the manner that Evenson's foreward implies. Doesn't the criminal protagonist's explicit emotional disturbance and psychological imbalance provide him with a reason, if not a full excuse, for behaving as abominably as he does?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By futuret@teleport.com on December 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In Father of Lies, Brian Evenson has at once crafted a straight-ahead thriller (somewhat contrary to his reputation as an experimentalist) and also crawls into your psyche with a mood that reminded me of that weird Jacob's Ladder movie. I could see someone like David Lynch making a creepy movie out of this. It sucked me in and was a quick, entertaining read with serious undertones.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on July 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written, gripping story, focusing on the worst kind of sexual predator -- a pedophile who is a church official. His office -- and its accompanying mantle of trust -- makes him more effective than most of these monsters. It also makes the damage he does even harder for its victims to overcome.
Evenson's writing is concise, giving us a clear, hard look at this man and his methods. He is protraying only one man, of course -- and there are as many 'reasons' for the sort of behavior he perpetrates as there are perpetrators -- but many of the 'classic' actions are here. While on the one hand he seems to be 'out of control', hallucinating voices and seeing (and following the instructions of) multiple personalities within himself, we can also clearly see him meticulously manipulating his victims -- there is definite premeditation in his acts.
The attempt by the church to cover up the scandal as it comes more and more into the light is completely dispicable -- and, in light of recent events in the news, very topical. At first, the man's superiors place their faith in his assurances that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. When it becomes clearer and clearer that he has been lying to them, they are righteously shocked and outraged that he has deceived them -- but they made no real investigation into the allegations when they first arose.
This is not a happy novel -- but then neither are the lives of indiciduals who have suffered the 'attentions' of predators such as the one so vividly drawn here. It is, however, a novel that should be read by any adult who cares about how children are treated, and about protecting them. This is not a book for young, immature readers -- but I would be comforted if my 16 year-old read it (she's mature and intelligent).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Seiter on November 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a scathing indictment of institutional corruption that transcends its religious milieu to comment on well-meaning but powerful ideological organizations generally, Father of Lies is timely and desperately needed.
Though murder, pederasty, and multiple personalities could have made for a gripping psychological thriller, Evenson wisely avoids the genre's overworked trappings with odd details and fresh turns of event that make the novel as memorable as it is disturbing.
Evenson's adept point-of-view shifts and experiments in form and psychic distance demonstrate a technical proficiency that allows him to alternately take readers deep inside the twisted mind of his protagonist, then back out for relieving breathers.
In the end, a quick, sobering, and worthwhile read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jeff on June 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The dark underbelly of modern life. Evenson takes 3 seperate tales: a therapist and his patient unearth repressed memories to reconnect a broken woman with her crumbling world, a minister struggles with waning faith and oppressive church hierchy, and a young boy tends and observes an antfarm as the glass walls symbolically crack and crumble. I'm not sure that I understood it all, and 30 pages from the end I couldn't see how it could all be tied together-- but Evenson pulled it off, weaving the 3 strands into one powerful, disturbing braid!
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