Playing Saint


I had no idea what to expect when I chose to review “Playing Saint” by new novelist Zachary Bartels. Shortly after I selected it, I began to see glowing recommendations for it by other authors, many of whose books I enjoy. I was encouraged to think I had made a good choice and was eager to find a block of time in my schedule to read it.

All I can say is “wow!” What an eclectic cast of characters and a riveting plot that kept me in the dark almost to the end! Who else would think to combine a popular television preacher with a positive message with a group of Jesuit priests, a highly visible self-proclaimed satanist, and several police detectives?

Parker Saint is a successful pastor and TV preacher with nowhere to go but up when he is practically forced into consulting with the police on a series of murders with eerily similar occult type symbols left on the bodies of the victims. Parker’s beliefs and lifestyle are challenged at every turn and his life will never be the same … if he lives! “Playing Saint” is a tale that will have its readers holding their breath from one riveting scene to another. The author scatters clues quite liberally along the way. The only problem is that it is much to easy to fall for the obvious culprit and this author was quite skilled at distracting the reader from the real murderer with a scapegoat who so obviously fit the bill.

“Playing Saint” is a superb first novel in the tradition of such noted authors as Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Bartels is not afraid of the tough or controversial subjects such as the demonic realm and secret orders of Jesuit priests. I particularly liked the way he portrayed Parker Saint’s self-examination and his realization of how far off-track he had strayed.

I recommend “Playing Saint” to all who enjoy a good suspense novel with a strong supernatural theme.  It may be a bit too graphic for some readers but I did not find anything at all about the book to be offensive.

This book was provided for review by the BookLook
Blogger Program of Harper Collins Christian Publishing..


Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between good and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back . . . this time for him.


Zachary BartelsZachary Bartels is the author of Playing Saint. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, he serves as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, MI, where he lives with his wife Erin and their son. You can find him online at