Jude Allman has cheated death three times. At age eight, he drowned; at age sixteen, he was hit by lightening; and at twenty-four he freezes to death in a snow storm. Jude wants to know why he is still walking around, and he is desperate to get away from the media that has labeled him a modern-day Lazarus. The worst are the people who expect him to be able to heal them, when he can’t stand to touch anyone. In an attempt to have some sort of life away from the media’s prying eyes, Jude changes his name and disappears into anonymity in a small Montana town.
Now, however, Jude’s privacy and solitary life are threatened. He is experiencing visions of people’s pending deaths just as children begin disappearing from town. Are these signs pointing toward a brutal child molester? Is he finally about to find out the reason he keeps returning from the dead?
Waking Lazarus is a confident entry into the psychological thriller market. In Jude, T.L. Hines has created a character desperate to hold onto the last strands of sanity he possesses. Living in fear of the supernatural forces seeming to control his life, Jude lives a strictly regulated life guided by extreme paranoia.
As the narrative skips back and forth through time as well as between narrators, readers quickly become disoriented and confused. This quickly puts readers into a state similar to the one in which Jude exists every day. Whether this was deliberate on the part of Hines is unclear; however it does add to the atmosphere of dread permeating the novel.
The most uneven part of Waking Lazarus is the character of Kristina. She appears suddenly at Jude’s door, knows his history, and barges into his home. Despite Jude’s clearly defined paranoia, he still takes time to talk to her rather than throw her out of his home – and agrees to meet with her again. This runs so counter to Jude’s character, as Hines has defined it, as to present a stumbling block to the flow of the narrative. This flaw pulls the reader out of the world of the novel and hinders the tension Hines is building.
While this is published by a Christian publisher and marketed as a Christian thriller, many readers may find the scenes written from the viewpoint of the child molester too repulsive no matter their religious leaning. This is definitely not a book for the sensitive or for the faint of heart, but if you want your thrillers to delve into a mind filled with pure evil, then Waking Lazarus is probably the book for you.
T.L Hines is the Creative Director for a large Montana advertising agency. While Waking Lazarus is his first foray into fiction, he has been writing professionally for fifteen years, with articles published in the Conservative Theological Journal, Travel & Leisure and Log Homes.