The Oath by Frank E. Peretti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was one of Peretti’s best. The plot centers on the effect of evil on the human soul. Professor Steve Benson. comes to the town of Hyde River because his brother, Cliff, has been killed by some enormous animal that seems to defy description. It is assumed that he was mauled by a bear, but Steve, with a Ph.D in Biological Science and a professorship at Colorado State University teaching environmental science and biology, is not satisfied. He and the conservation officer of Fish and Game manage to kill the rogue bear thought to have been large enough to inflict the damage, but are very unsatisfied with the findings of the post-mortem of either Cliff or the bear.
As the plot develops, it appears that there is more wrong than just a habituated bear. The town is full of mystery and people are united against any outsiders. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence and actual hostility towards Steve. The only one helping is the attractive deputy, Tracy Ellis. She grew up in Hyde River but seems to have some objectivity about troubles in the town, and she doesn’t believe that it was a bear that killed Cliff Benson.
What has happened to Maggie Bly, wife of Harold Bly? Why does Bly have so much control of the people of the town? Why is there such a concerted effort to mislead and drive out Steve Benson? What is the oath that the people of the town took more than 100 years ago, and what does it have to do with Cliff’s death? What are the ominous, dark, oozing sores that appear over the hearts of many in the town?
What follows it the depiction of evil and what it does to a people. Steve learns about the evil that resides in his own heart as he gets closer and closer to the evil in the town. The pace is fast and keeps the reader involved in the chase while Steve desperately tries to find meaning in the evidence that seems to go against everything modern society seems to consider normal.
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