2 out of 4 stars
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Some people claim that they're able to see others' auras. With the aid of some special-made glasses, eye doctor Jerri is also able to see them. Will this new ability enable her to help catch a killer? That's the central question in James Michael Ruether's short book, The Agape Spectrum.
Dr. Jerri and her younger sister, Jan, live in the little town of Ocean Crest, where Jerri has her practice, The Vision Lab. Jan, meanwhile, works at the Ocean Crest Veterinary Hospital with her crush, Luke. One day, Jerri is enjoying the beach at her and Jan’s Spanish estate when she notices that some of the silica sand seems to have a special property to it. She gathers some and uses it to make glasses since they make customers' spectacles right there at her lab. It's when she tries the glasses on that she realizes that she can see colors around people's hearts, including purple for sadness, brown for fear, red for anger, and so on. Jan discovers a variety of other properties the glasses have as the story goes on. When one of Ocean Crest's residents starts acting funny, she wonders if the person may be the killer who murdered Detective Richard Michaels’ late wife. With the use of her glasses, she finds out a lot she didn't know about him or her and several other citizens, and she prays the new knowledge can help to put the killer away.
The Agape Spectrum also has spiritual aspects, which is what initially drew me to the story. After discovering the special sand, Jerri finds an old book that she used in college, named The Agape Spectrum, a Window to God's Love. The book explains that "...if [a] particular spectrum of invisible light could be made visible somehow, the visibility would open the Agape Spectrum of light into what is God's love." This light is the prism of colors moving around the glasses she made that enables her to see people's hearts as God does. As a Christian, I greatly enjoyed the thought of this spectrum, as well as other spiritual aspects of the story.
Unfortunately, this tale was written in a very sophomoric manner. The characters received only scant descriptions and even less descriptive backgrounds, making it hard for me to care about them or any of the people they interacted with. The action left a lot to be desired as well, and I never experienced a sense of urgency. The story basically went from one scene to another, skipping over the things that make a book feel full and the characters feel human. Jerri, for instance, would leave her home and then reappear at the office. I would have appreciated being with her while she drove to work, maybe observing her town, cursing at a bad driver, or thinking about the music on the radio. Her interactions with her sister were also dry. Even though dinner was mentioned, I never read what they ate or got to enjoy the little things that happen when people have a meal together, like someone getting food stuck in their mouth or knocking over a glass of water or adding a ton of salt to their food because they have a sodium addiction. It's these little things that bring a story to life, so I never really got a sense of humanity while reading.
I also don't think this book was edited, as it had rampant grammatical errors of all types. The most prolific error was incorrect comma usage, but there were also many misspelled words, missing words, and capitalization mistakes. In addition, the book often had extra spaces between words, and there wasn’t always a line break indicating a change of time and/or location. The most irritating writing misstep, however, was the author's tendency to change from past tense to present and vice-versa. I therefore strongly urge Mr. Ruether to retain a good editor to clean up the writing.
Due to the simple writing and lack of editing, I am rating The Agape Spectrum 2 out of 4 stars. I did enjoy the story enough to give it more than the lowest rating, and I wouldn't be against reading another of the author's tales. Even though it was less than fulfilling, I do recommend this book to fans of simple or slow-burning murder mysteries and people who like books with spiritual aspects. However, readers who are overly-sensitive to spiritual warfare, demon possession, or foul language may want to think twice before getting a copy.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.
The Agape Spectrum
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