Books: A Question of Faith

Robert Stone's engrossing new thriller sets a skeptical journalist loose in a city of zealots

Inventing a terrorist conspiracy and then setting it in contemporary Jerusalem may seem a coals-to-Newcastle sort of enterprise. Why bother with make-believe when the reality is so vivid and convoluted? Robert Stone provides an engrossing answer in his sixth novel, Damascus Gate (Houghton Mifflin; 500 pages; $26). All of Stone's previous fiction has featured heroes whose problems are implicitly religious. Their pathologies--the heavy ingestion of drugs and booze, the habit of seeking or stumbling into serious, life-threatening trouble--stem from their uneasy sense that God still exists, but not for them. Damascus Gate makes this problem perfectly clear.

Christopher Lucas is an...

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