In The Tenth Plague by Adam Blumer, Marc and Jillian Thayer have just adopted a new baby boy, and a friend has invited them to a Christian-themed resort for some rest and time together as a new family.
When they arrive, however, the retreat is in upheaval. A company planning a new Bible translation is having meetings at the resort, and a throng has arrived to protest. Someone rigged the water system to dispense what appears to be blood from the faucets. What seems an odd prank is soon discovered to be the first in a series of events based on the Biblical ten plagues of Egypt, some of them resulting in fatalities. Marc calls on a friend, a retired homicide detective, to help with the investigation as the plagues escalate.
Gillian, meanwhile, runs into someone who has hurt her deeply in the past. She thought she had put it all behind her, but the old anger and hurt rush back in like a flood, and she wrestles with the need to extend forgiveness.
The Tenth Plague is a sequel to Fatal Illusions, Adam’s first book (which I reviewed here), but you don’t have to have read the first book to understand and enjoy the second. Both books are tremendously suspenseful and feature realistic, everyday Christian people trying to discern and apply God’s will in their circumstances. I enjoyed them both very much!
Here is an interview with Adam:
What was your inspiration behind The Tenth Plague?
One day I was reading the book of Revelation and came across 22:18–19. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (ESV). My mind began playing the “what if” game. Would God really bring a biblical plague on someone who tampered with His Word? I chatted with a few theologian friends, and the plot emerged from there.
How does this novel compare with your first novel, Fatal Illusions?
Though the plot, of course, is different, the two novels share a number of similarities. Both are set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I live. I like to write about average folks like Marc and Gillian Thayer, a pastor and his wife who face unexpected, even threatening, events. Of course, there’s another really bad killer who wants to do them harm, and their retired homicide detective friend, Chuck Riley, once again comes out of retirement to help them. I also like to weave in a historical event that somehow relates to the present day. In Fatal Illusions, it was the killer’s obsession with Houdini; in The Tenth Plague, an old mine disaster plays an important role. The past always plays an important role in the present—a running theme in my novels. Overall, I like to write about redemption: how biblical truth offers the answers to the complicated issues of life. Stories, like parables, present some of the best ways to illustrate biblical truths.
What was one of the most important lessons you learned during the writing of this novel?
The power of the collaborative process. I had a fairly strong first draft, but I was stuck. A novel editor provided a creative springboard and helped me see where my true story lay. Without her help, I doubt this story would have seen the light of day.
What part of writing this novel took the most work?
This novel required a ton of research. From an old mining tragedy to autism, from adoption law to anthrax, from pheromones to the Oklahoma City bombing, the research for this one required much more than I ever expected. I’m so thankful for technology and ease of access, thanks to the Internet. Without Google and so many resources at my fingertips, I’d probably still be researching this story.
So far, what has been your favorite work experience in life?
During one summer between years in high school, I worked at a library, a book lover’s paradise. Granted, a lot of the work involved stocking shelves, but being surrounded by so many fascinating books and interesting authors was pure heaven. I was born a die-hard book lover, and I’ll probably die one too.
Consider the qualities that make you unique. How do these qualities come out in your writing?
I love suspense fiction and history, so a blending of the two always seems to come out in my writing. In high school, I won awards in calligraphy; Gillian Thayer, my female lead, is into calligraphy in a big way (it’s her job). I’ve always been intrigued with how one’s past impacts his or her present and future. This is a recurring theme in my novels because it’s part of who I am. Now that I think about it, what I write is inseparable to some degree from who I am.
Introduce your plot summary and main characters. What is your favorite part of the story?
Water turns to blood. Flies and gnats attack the innocent. Marc and Gillian Thayer’s vacation resort becomes a grisly murder scene, with a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as his playbook for revenge.
When their friend turns up dead, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of a retired homicide detective, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Meanwhile, a stranger is after the Thayers’ newly adopted baby. Will they uncover the truth behind the bitter agenda before the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn son?
My favorite part is when the firstborn son is revealed and the novel culminates in the tenth plague. This is the most suspenseful and action-packed part of the story, with several key characters in jeopardy. I had a blast writing it.
One of the main themes of The Tenth Plague is confronting and dealing with your past. What can readers take away from this theme, especially in a novel that deals with religion and death?
Both the villain and my heroine, Gillian Thayer, grapple with heartbreaking real-life issues from their past. But how they respond shows two very different paths. My hope is that readers will see the stark contrast in the context of biblical truth presented in the story. The bottom line is that God is enough, and He offers the solution to every problem of life. This is another repeated theme in my stories. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my latest project.
Some content used by permission of Kirkdale Press
Thanks to Adam for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)