The Jericho Deception: A Novel
by Jeffrey Small
Review by Steve Sawicki
West Hills Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781933512440
Date: 30 April 2013 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Dr. Ethan Lightman is a neuroscientist at Yale, working on a project that he feels is about to have a breakthrough. The project, if successful, will change the way human beings think about religion.
Lightman's project, the Logos machine, has the power to produce religious ecstasy, quite possibly opening up a connection with God. On the other hand there is a small side effect that seems to produce madness of the psychotic violent sort.
As Lightman tries to comprehend what it might mean if the Logos machine really works his mentor is brutally murdered. Now, Lightman along with Rachel Riley, a graduate student assisting with animal trials, are taken deep into the Egyptian desert where they are introduced to Project Jericho, a top secret CIA program designed to reprogram religious zealots into US military assets. The consequences of Lightman's project are brought to his attention as Project Jericho unfolds before him.
This is an interesting novel that takes the whole God gene concept one step further. Small does an adept job at moving the story from the musty halls of Yale to the scorching deserts of Egypt with little let down. He introduces the concepts of what this discovery might mean but does so in a fairly limited way and only in areas that keep the plot moving forward. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does move the book from one that could wrestle with the concepts of humanity's place in a future that does, indeed contain God, even if that God might be only in a fully expanded imagination, to one that is using the concept simply to move from point A to point B.
I enjoyed the book. I found the idea interesting and Small's use of it to be logical and adventurous. The characters are, at times, a bit dense, but then, this also plays into the academic being one who is removed from the everyday reality so it's not that big a deal. The pacing of the novel was fast and the plot moved pretty readily and quickly from place to place and point to point, making it a fairly quick read for 400+ pages. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a thriller with science fiction overtones.