I was thrilled to receive such a thoughtful and insightful review by this professional reviewer.

Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (06/2024) 5-Stars.

Author Charles Besondy continues The Lighthouse series with book four, “Road to Nineveh: A Christian Psychological Thriller.” Some may be thinking that referring to a novel as a “Christian Thriller” is rather oxymoronic.  Isn’t Christian fiction usually about clean romances or too-good-to-be-true heroes?  Not this book.  Not this series.

“Road to Nineveh” features Charley Austin, a young man who gets the offer of a lifetime.  He’s been plucked by the number one Christian band in the world, DelivRus, to join them on tour as their drummer.  Life is good for Charley, a pretty ordinary 20-year-old who just happens to be an extraordinary drummer as well as a talented lyrics writer.

But this tale is an all-too-familiar one.  The bright lights, the fans, the rush of a roaring crowd.  It can all go to a person’s head so fast.  There are plenty of real-world examples of this.  But Besondy has chosen to take a page out of C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” and show us what goes on behind the scenes.  Oh, sorry.  I don’t mean backstage with the band.  I mean truly behind the scenes.  As in, beyond the physical world we can see and into the spiritual realm we can’t see.  Because Charley is making a difference in the world through his music, and Somebody Big doesn’t like that.

As DelivRus brings change across the world with their Godly message, the entire band faces backlash from The Enemy’s forces.  However the older members of the band are familiar with this battleground, and they understand that prayer and remaining grounded in God’s Word are necessary tools against temptation.  Charley, however, is fresh meat.  He doesn’t truly grasp that this isn’t a “one and done” situation where you pray once and are protected from temptation for life.  He doesn’t get that this is more like combing your hair:  you can’t do it once and never concern yourself about it again.

So, Charley is ripe for picking, and a minion of the Evil One has been charged with taking Charley, and therefore the band, down.  Publicly.  We’re talking about total ruin.  But it’s not a slam dunk.  As Phobley, a dark angel tasked with Project C-682 (AKA: Charley), sees it:

Phobley prided himself on his skillful planning for the spiritual ruin of human Projects under his control.  Yet, he had to admit that God’s plans were always superior.  It sometimes seemed to Phobley that he was playing a simple game of checkers, while God was controlling a game of multi-dimensional chess.

It took a bit of effort, but ultimately Charley fell into the honey trap of porn addiction.  As expected, this brought Charley down.  In 24 hours, he lost his job, his girlfriend, and his followers.  But that’s not enough.  Since Charley’s eyes won’t open to what’s going on and he refuses to take responsibility for his actions, he loses the respect of his friends and family and finds himself without a home and with no job prospects in sight.  How the mighty have fallen.

“Road to Nineveh” wonderfully depicts the spiritual battle that goes on for all of us.  You don’t have to be a rock star to find yourself in the middle of a life crisis of spiritual proportions.  It is slightly reminiscent of the 20-year-old Frank Peretti series that began with “This Present Darkness.” But this is perhaps more about the characters on Earth rather than the unseen forces in the spiritual realm.  Readers get to know Charley very well as all his thoughts and struggles are laid bare.  We follow his thought process as he works out why he’s not really “addicted” to porn (for instance), and why porn could actually be helpful to his cause.  I don’t have time to help you understand that one—but Charley will.  Readers feel all of Charley’s struggles, pain, confusion, bitterness, anger, and his pride.  He’s very much someone most of us can relate to.

While this story is Charley’s, he’s not the only nicely developed character here.  Charley’s parents, Clay and Sheryl are genuine and relatable.  They’ve each had their stories told in previous volumes of The Lighthouse series.  Charley’s potential love interest, Mia, and of course the original DelivRus frontman, Jerry Levine, are also rich characters within this novel.  Then there’s the antagonist with his minions.  You’ll get to meet him in the Prologue.

While this story is “clean” in regard to language, violence, and sex it does intentionally toe the line in some respects.  Charley’s appetite for porn is widely discussed, of course.  Even though readers are not subjected to graphic details, the basics are not shied away from either.  Besondy does a tough job admirably as he provides worldly concepts to his readers in a natural way, balanced between being sanitized and gritty.

He was twenty and still hadn’t been to bed with a girl yet.  In fact, he was probably the only twenty-year-old in a rock band that hadn’t had sex.

Curious about this novel’s title: “Road to Nineveh?”  It’s a reference to a Biblical story about another guy who was sent to deliver God’s Word.  When this guy chose to go another way (literally), he wound up not just poor and embarrassed- he found himself in a stinky, smelly, wet, disgusting, and frightening place instead.  You can read the original story in the Old Testament book, Jonah.

Truthfully, this book won’t be to every reader’s taste (what book is?).  But then, the author already knows that.  Christian fiction is a niche genre that tends to either attract or repel a reader.  Those who dare to venture into “Road to Nineveh” by Charles Besondy will find a well-written richly developed story about a fairly average guy who struggles with many things.  They’ll also find a complex and possibly mind-blowing plot involving intrigue, deception, and denial.  These negatives are overcome by hope, friendship, truth, and love.

Available from Amazon in paperback and eBook version. The audiobook is available wherever audiobooks are sold.