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Salvation Boulevard: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Larry Beinhart is best known as the author of Wag the Dog (originally published as American Hero) on which the film starring Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson was based. His No One Rides for Free (1986) received the 1987 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. His most recent book, Fog Facts, a work of nonfiction, examines why some important, even striking, truths are overlooked by the media and the culture at large. Beinhart spent two years in Oxford, England, where he was the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellow at Wadham College. He is a regularly featured blogger on Huffingtonpost.com and his articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Chicago Tribune. He resides in Woodstock, New York, with his wife and two children.

From Booklist

Beinhart tells the tale of recovered alcoholic Carl Van Wagener, a man torn between the comfort of belonging to his evangelical megachurch and his respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. He is an ordinary man, a cop turned private investigator, and he is ill-equipped to confront the logical, theological, and philosophical dilemmas that arise when he is asked to investigate the murder charge against a Muslim student arrested for killing a local professor who questioned the existence of God. But pressure from within his megachurch—and from his true-believing wife—to drop the case, force him to question faith, religion, marriage, and even the beneficent God who will welcome him into a Christian-only heaven. Beinhart does a fine job describing the treacly paradise of the Church of the Third Millennium and a finer job ratcheting up the pressure on his fragile hero. A few plot elements seem over the top—e.g., “privatizing” a university’s endowment—but Beinhart adds notes showing that George Bush did exactly that. Deep-dyed evangelicals will be angered, but many others will be unable to put this one down. --Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,479,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Kall VINE VOICE on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Yep. This is one of those can't put it down once you start it novels. The author, who wrote the book the movie Wag The Dog, was adapted from, has come out with a sure winner that kept me up waaay past my bedtime.

Beinhart is a very savvy political observer in the real world, writing for huffingtonpost, opednews and other political sites. But he is brilliant when it comes to weaving stories that are built upon the politics, the characters and issues of the day.

Salvation Boulevard is a mystery and a.... not a thriller, though it has plenty of thrilling moments, not an adventure, though the story takes you on quite a ride... I'm not sure exactly how you'd categorize it. A theopolitical action story?

Beinhart walks you into the world of the evangelical right wing megachurch, into the mind of its members and its leaders and he creates a very believable collection of characters who learn to love, hate or despise.

Even if you're not interested in politics, there's a great story here. I understand it's been optioned to be made into a movie and that's not at all surprising. It should be put on the screen and when it is, it will be a hit I'll be sure to watch.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, I must acknowledge that I've never had any contact with evangelical Christians. So I can't judge whether the author's portrayal of their beliefs is accurate and fair. I intend to check out the discussion he encouraged at his website, but I haven't found time to do it yet.

Given that...in a story of murder and mayhem, I hope for surprises. Here, I was only truly surprised by one plot development, which takes place less than midway through the book. I'm not saying I anticipated all the specifics. But the characters I expected (from the way they'd been portrayed all along) to be guilty of wrongdoing were in fact guilty of wrongdoing.

Early on, we're told a minor character has insisted on something's being worded in a certain way, rejecting another possibility. I kept waiting for that to have some plot relevance, but it never does.

Finally, while I can understand the author's wanting to end the story the way he did, the denouement was too long and dragged-out for my taste.
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Format: Hardcover
You probably won't find Larry Beinhart signing copies of his new novel, SALVATION BOULEVARD, at a mega-church near you. That's because Beinhart takes American right-wing Christianity by the scruff of the neck and shakes the tar out of it in this rip-roaring, disturbing post-9/11 tale of deception, greed, xenophobia, faith, doubt, apostasy and murder.
Carl, a former cop, his wife, Gwen, and his adolescent daughter from a previous marriage, Angie, belong to the Cathedral of the Third Millennium, a 6,400-member fundamentalist mega-church built of glass and steel and shepherded by the Rev. Paul Plowright. (Give you one guess who the bad guy is.)
Renouncing drugs, alcohol, casual sex and thinking for himself, Carl gives Plowright credit for saving his life and Jesus the glory for saving his soul. Harboring nary a doubt (uncertainty is for the faithless), Carl abides, for a time, in the love of God, family and the flock at CTM.
But abiding time starts ticking down when Carl is hired to investigate a murder that leads him into temptations of the flesh and the spirit. Here's how Carl describes his situation, "Look, I'm a Christian working for a Jewish lawyer who's working for an Islamic kid to find out who really killed the atheist. It's America, right?"
Beinhart, whose previous novels include WAG THE DOG and THE LIBRARIAN, both must-read page-turners for political junkies, takes aim this time at scoundrels behind stained glass windows who've had it coming.
For a high-speed excursion of America's search for meaning in these strange times, take SALVATION BOULEVARD. Beinhart will have you hollering "Amen!"
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Format: Hardcover
Here's a book for all of us who missed a subway stop trying to finish Crime and Punishment, and have been looking to repeat the experience ever since. Beinhart, too, melds a meditation on religion into a novel of nail-biting suspense. More importantly, to those of us who see red when we hear the word fundamentalist, Beinhart creates a believable protagonist who allows us to understand why people turn to megachurches -- a feat I would have have honestly said was impossible. Who says a novel of ideas can't be fun?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book so much so that once I started reading it I didn't put it down for 2 days I found myself bringing the book to the table and reading it while I was eating I rarely if ever do that but this is a well written book and just when I thought I could put the book down for a bit something else surprising happened and I had to keep reading. Of course, being a freethinker might have made me more interested in the outcome and the dialog but the main story was excellent on it's own. It doesn't surprise me that they made this into a movie.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Larry Beinhart's "Salvation Boulevard" more than any book I've read in a while, dropped everything and stayed up to 1 a.m. to finish it. The first person protagonist is an evangelical Christian, member of a Texas megachurch, ex-cop and ex-alcoholic private detective. He's working for a Jewish liberal lawyer, who is defending an American Muslim student accused of murdering an atheist college professor who was about to publish a book on the human need to cling to religious illusions.

I'm an atheist raised as a fundamentalist Christian, so I was uncomfortable at first finding myself inside the mind of an evangelical Christian. But that's the protagonist, of course, not the author. Anyway, I was already hooked. The story unfolds over the wreckage of our legal system left after eight years of Bush's "war on terror" and the Bill of Rights. Using the Muslim student's arrest - he's already being called a terrorist - as the case in point, the detective's charismatic superstar minister paints a picture of holy war between "them and us," and the church brings every kind of pressure on the detective to drop the case. The detective, who believes the student innocent, is having trouble with his faith. And I'll leave the rest of the story for you to enjoy, while I read the author's other two books, "Wag the Dog" and "The Librarian."
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