From Publishers Weekly
The rise and fall of a ne'er-do-well–turned–preacher fuels Forrester's promising debut. Waiting to be executed in a Florida prison, Vernon Oliver reluctantly agrees to write his autobiography at the request of his attorney, who hopes to sell it to cover Vernon's legal fees. His story begins 11 years earlier, in 1997, living in an RV park and working for Tabernacle Carnival, a shady Holy Roller church. His girlfriend, Rickie, sells Bibles, and the two are content to mostly get high and play Scrabble until carnival owner Miriam MacKenzie sees epic televangelist potential in Vernon and packs him off to religious boot camp where Vernon meets the actors who will receive his "healing" touch. Soon he's taking the stage in pyrotechnic displays of Jesus-loving fervor, amid cries of blasphemy from other Pentecostal leaders and a crumbling relationship with Rickie. While alternating between Vernon's autobiography leading up to the act that lands him on death row and his life in prison is a structural choice that mostly pays off, the depiction of life in prison suffers compared to the inventiveness of Vernon's life as a sham faith healer. (Feb.)
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You know you�re in for weird ride when a novel begins with a millionaire televangelist recounting his life while sitting on Death Row. Vernon Oliver embodies the notion of rags to riches. Vernon, an Indiana slacker, falls in with an unscrupulous televangelism outfit infinitely more concerned with profiteering and debauchery than expelling demons or saving souls. Vernon�s future mother-in-law, the matriarch of Miracles Incorporated, plucks him from grunt-work obscurity, crowning him king of the spiritual ruse. His Harley-Davidson preacher shtick works, and the money piles up. As Vernon soon discovers, not all that shines is gold. His unstable wife�s condition unravels, precipitating two murders and landing Vernon on Death Row. Miracles, Inc. nicely twines the opulence of Vernon�s working life with the ho-hum existence of incarceration. There are terrible deeds throughout the novel, but they are accompanied by comedy and moments of tenderness. Forrester never explicitly makes this declaration, but the story speaks clearly enough: bad things can befall those who exploit the faith and prayers of others. --Blair Parsons