Mark Weis’ mystery novel “Lead Me Into Temptation” is a Christian apologetic and a witnessing tool for the author.
This doesn’t diminish a fast paced, sinuous plot and some interesting character development, but it may leave some readers feeling it’s too didactic.
The protagonist is a neurosurgeon named James Steele who recently lost his wife in a drowning accident. He is left to raise two young children alone and has come to question why God allowed this to happen.
Steele dreams up a plan to punish God by becoming a serial killer. He comes up with a bizarre idea to run a lawn mowing service and use information he collects about his clients to plot their deaths.
He buys an old truck to haul around his lawn mower and equipment however the people he encounters know he isn’t a blue-collar worker.
Nearly everyone wonders why he would decide to mow lawns.
Asked at the hospital where he works about his lawn mowing business, Steele jokes about cutting people up with a lawn mower and that sets off a chain of events for other members of the hospital staff.
A plastic surgeon takes Steele seriously and wants to know how to get involved in the evil that Steele has said he’s planning. A woman doctor is offended by Steele’s behavior and reports him to the administration.
Because he doesn’t know anything about what he should charge to mow lawns, he stops a young boy, who mows lawns, and asks him questions about what he charges his clients. The boy is suspicious and later sees Steele spying on people.
The boy’s father identifies Steele as a respected doctor but the boy is troubled by Steele’s actions. During one of his times of studying Dr. Steele’s apparent spying on people, the youth is grabbed by the plastic surgeon. He too had been following Steele. He threatens the boy, who later asks his priest, Rev. Mulroney for advice.
As part of his effort to offend God, Steele reads books on Satan worship. He finds these confusing and spiritually demeaning.
Steele, a lifelong Baptist, decides to go to a Catholic Church for confession and to have a discussion with a priest. He encounters Rev. Donald Mulroney.
Mulroney reflects the general position of the Catholic Church regarding logic as a means of establishing theological truth much in line with an Aristotelian approach. Lengthy dialogues between Steele and Rev. Mulroney explore the nature of God and man’s relationship to God.
These discussions might be appropriate to a religious philosophy text and may interest some readers and but leave others wanting the storyline to move along.
They are, however, critical to Steele’s finding out what he really believes and the outcome of the story that contains elements of both violence and redemption.
After the plastic surgeon has brutally murdered one of the other staff doctors and taken some of Dr. Steele’s lawn mowing customers hostage, he plans to kill Steele and his children.
Mulroney and the young lad, who had been following Dr. Steele, discover his plot. They recruit several members of the church softball team to serve as sort of super heroes to save Dr. Steele, his children and the hostages.
This story about a descent into madness and rebellion against God is ultimately a story of repentance and redemption.
Elby Adamson is a retired teacher and a Clay Center resident