THE FEAR OF GOD
B. A. Chepaitis
Ace Books / 288 pages / May 1999
Good news! Jaguar Addams — teacher, empath, and loose cannon — is back. Okay, that’s good news for readers and extremely bad news for criminals. But the heroine of B.A. Chepaitis’ sizzling debut novel, The Fear Principle, isn’t the kind of person to remain silent for long; we all knew a return engagement had to be on the way. Luckily for you and me, it’s here at last.
Planetoid Three isn’t much of a vacation spot, in fact, it’s a prison. Not a prison like you’ve seen in movies (or, just possibly, spent an involuntary, extended stay in), but the prison of the future, where Teachers like Jaguar force criminals to face their deepest fears. If everything goes well, the prisoner is rehabilitated, able to return to society. If things don’t work out as planned, the prisoner is locked away or terminated. Either way: no recidivism.
Works for me.
Jaguar is the best Teacher in the system, even if she is constantly ruffling feathers. Only her track record and the support of Alex Dzarny, her supervisor and strongest proponent, have kept her from ejection on numerous occasions. Maybe it’s her strong psi capabilities, her fierce loyalty, or her practice of not bucking the system, really, but failing to even acknowledge its existent. She is a renegade more dangerous than her namesakes.
She’ll need every bit of that explosive potential to survive her latest case. The danger in The Fear of God is a painfully familiar one: the lethal madness of a religious cult. The Revelation Sect have organised to help the world on to apocalypse. You know, just to give us a hand. That would be very considerate if Earth had not already been exposed to a bloody example of the cult’s idea of positive action. No one believes the worst has happened yet; it is up to Jaguar to discover the truth about Revelation’s plan.
Sardis Malocco is the only hope to head off the tragedy, but getting the facts from her maybe beyond even Jaguar’s talents. Sardis, Mother of the cult, is living in a fantasy world of biblical proportions. There may not be enough sanity left in her twisted mind to extract the details. And time is running out for everyone.
Chepaitis builds on an already extraordinary creation to create another enthralling adventure in the legend that is Jaguar. No heroine on the scene today approaches the complexity of this enigmatic, feral woman. She astounds, offends, and defies classification. Jaguar inspires the saviour in friends and readers, even as she forces the outside world as far away as possible without slowing down to survey her adversaries.
How do you top an opening act like The Fear Principle? Grab an even tighter hold on the audience with a thriller like The Fear Of God. Chepaitis’ writing is just too strong a weapon for us mere mortals. It would take a force as strong as Jaguar to break the spell Chepaitis weaves.
I, for one, am no match for her power. And have no desire to struggle. Just assure me a steady supply of that magic.