The title intrigued me, and of course Wilson meant that his hero Aramis Black would get the best of evil.
Aramis moves to Nashville and leave behind his violent life, filled with vices and ties to a radical group in the Pacific Northwest. He opens a trendy coffee shop and starts over with his aspiring country western singer and health food nut brother Johnny Ray Black.
A life shaping event occurred in Aramis’ life when he was six that may have sent him into a tailspin down the road to a destructive lifestyle. He witnessed the murder of his mother Dianne Lewis Black. He blames his uncle Wyatt for not preventing this awful crime. Even with his newfound faith, Aramis can’t forgive his uncle.
When a man is murdered in the coffee shop who speaks the same death bed words his mother spoke, things start to pop, in weird ways. His mother’s handkerchief given to him before his mother’s murder had been stolen from him. It turns up and then is stolen again. Clues start piling up suggesting a link between the Black family and the famed Louisiana Purchase explorer Meriwether Lewis, who some historians think might have been murdered. Could his mother have been murdered because she knew where Lewis hid his cache of gold?
Suddenly a reality TV show crew shows up offering Aramis and invitation to be on their show, where the premise is that the contestant can “get the best of evil” by giving good for evil. I had trouble buying that since all the reality shows I know about try to bring out the worst in people to garner ratings…perhaps if it were a Christian television network, but that would be about it.
Perhaps the best crafted scenes in the book are the nightmares Aramis has of the physical abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his father and the fear that if his mother were alive she wouldn’t be proud of the man he became. Other scenes that rang true were those depicting a love-hate relationship between Aramis and Johnny Ray.
Ultimately the novel is about spiritual growth. Aramis has lived on dark side and now as a Christian is making different choices. The issue of forgiveness has got Aramis in a headlock and won’t let him go. The ultimate lesson Aramis learns is that no matter what his mistakes were, God has forgiven him.