Is “The Shroud Conspiracy” an Anti-Dan-Brown Thriller – In a Good Way?
by Ray Keating
In his first thriller, John Heubusch, the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, earns the moniker of being an anti-Dan-Brown novelist – and I mean that in a good way. The Shroud Conspiracy (Howard Books, New York, 2017, 402 pages, $26) ranks as an engrossing, easy page-turner, like much of Dan Brown’s work, but, unlike Brown, Heubusch shows respect for the Christianity in which the story is rooted.
Writing a Christian-based – in this case, Catholic – work of fiction can be tricky. After all, Christian fiction often can be sugary, with cardboard characters and stilted, unrealistic dialogue. Meanwhile, at the other extreme are works of fiction that dismiss or are hostile toward Christians or the Church.
Heubusch avoids these extremes. His book moves along nicely. His characters come across as real people, who act, speak and react in ways that seem reasonable, even as Heubusch puts them in fantasy-like situations. Indeed, he takes his characters and the readers on a wild ride weaving together the Vatican, Catholic relics, atheists, scientists, faithful Catholics and the misguided, likeable and not-so-likeable priests, a crazy cult, some globe-trotting, and both the miraculous and the heretical. Heck, there’s even a cute little dog that plays a role in this tale.