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On the Fifth Day    by A. J. Hartley order for
On the Fifth Day
by A. J. Hartley
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

A. J. Hartley's On the Fifth Day is sure to appeal to fans of thrillers steeped in religious mysteries, such as The Da Vinci Code. This is a gripping tale of one man's race to find his brother's killer before he meets the same fate.

Thomas Knight has reached rock-bottom. After a miscarriage five years ago, his wife has moved back to Japan, leaving him to sink into the downward spiral of alcoholism. The day he gets fired from his English teaching job is also the day he finds out that his estranged brother Ed has been killed in an accident overseas. As the only living family member, Thomas must claim his brother's belongings at the rectory where he was last assigned. Once there, Thomas and Fr. Jim Gornall are attacked by a strange man in Ed's room. The thief seems to be looking for papers and only takes away a strange silver fish relic. Suspicious about the attack that seems to have been meant for Ed, and with nothing else to do, Thomas decides to follow his brother's movements over the last few months to find out the truth about his death. The more Thomas learns, the more his life is in danger from a cabal of religious fanatics who will do anything to ensure that whatever Ed found is not revealed to the world.

On the Fifth Day is a compelling read that presents a stunning religious mystery, as Thomas tracks his brother's research across three continents. Hartley does one of the best jobs I have encountered of explaining how - to Catholics at least - the proof of evolution does not negate the possibility of God. He also does wonderfully at pulling readers in and keeping them on the edge of their seats, constantly thinking. The only downfall of the thriller is that is seems like the release was slightly rushed. A page in the final, on-the-shelves copy still seemed to have an editing note on it and the description on the back cover makes too much of one character who is hardly in the story. Other than this, On the Fifth Day is a solid religious thriller.

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