The Knowledge of Good and Evil
by Glenn Kleier
(Tor, $24.99, GV) ISBN 978-0-7653-2377-4
Ian Beringer became an orphan at the age of ten when both of his parents were killed in a car crash that he, himself, survived. A poster child for survivor guilt, Ian clings to the hope he maintains through his religion that he will be reunited with his parents in an afterlife experience.

Thanks to an ample trust fund and life insurance policies established by his parents, Ian does not want for money, obtained a quality education, entered a seminary, and was ordained a priest. His first forays outside the security of the church were as a graduate student at Berkeley. The obvious trauma he suffered through the loss of his parents remained unnoticed in the environment of the church, but in the secular world, he stuck out like a sore thumb.

Fortunately for Ian he met the love of his life in a woman named Angela Weber. Angela trained as a psychologist is able to see past Ian’s neuroses and phobias to the compassionate person that he inherently is. She believes that her expertise will enable her to rid Ian of his “ball and chain” while concurrently developing a stable relationship between Ian and her that will last a lifetime.

Angela has established a career as the host of a television series debunking paranormal occurrences in which Ian provides assistance. Their one area of conflict involves Ian’s fascination with Near Death Experiences. Ian has faith that these NDE’s that he periodically undergoes with the assistance of a cadre of medical technicians and doctors will allow him to contact his parents in the afterlife bringing him closure on the event in which he participated as a ten-year-old as well as understanding his true relationship with his parents in the present.

The NDE’s are taking an enormous physical and mental toll on Ian and Angela is not at all sure that they will achieve the desired goal. She threatens to break off their relationship after a particularly grueling session, leaving Ian bereft. He is besotted with the idea that this avenue of exploration offers the key to his happiness. Therein lies the conflict.

Glenn Kleier has done an enormous amount of research into the history of real people whose life work was related to the area in which Ian seeks enlightenment. He has documented his research with images available on the web which readers are invited to view. While these items lend credulity to his story, to fully appreciate his tale readers should be willing to suspend their disbelief in substantial measure. If not they are left with an uneven mix of believable events with extraordinary phenomenon.

The scope of the tale blends locations in the United States to various sites in Italy, the Vatican, the Caribbean, Austria, and parts of Asia. Details of specific buildings, artwork, architecture, and climate lend authenticity to the tale. Would that I had the time, finances, and stamina to trace the progress of the story!

Those that have done some Bible study will no doubt be interested in the references in this book. Again, the author appears to have done and documented his research. The conclusions that he draws from the data he presents may be an area of conflict for some members of the author’s audience. Nevertheless, this tale is worthy of blockbuster status from its scope alone.

--Andy Plonka

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