The action explodes within the first few pages and does not lag. What I wrote in my first paragraph above is revealed within the first 10% of the book. However, the pace of the revelations never feels rushed. The narrative is one jolt after another. The story is told from the point of view of one of the priests, a young and newly ordained Fr. Jason Crowder, still in his twenties and relatively inexperienced at everything. The plot is actually ingenious. Jonathan Janz has a lot to live up to when you take on a possession and exorcism. You are automatically compared to William Peter Blatty – and let’s face it, there is not much you can do to outperform the possession passages in The Exorcist. Janz makes a gallant attempt, and he does insert a couple of previously unfamiliar possession “tricks” – the body contortion aspect is a good example. Even when he describes the speaking in unfamiliar tongues and yelling in a different voice, Janz manages to make the story his own.
What makes Exorcist Road a unique read for demonic possession fans is the addition of the serial killer storyline and the likely possibility that the killer is one of the main characters. The question is who? I enjoyed this added dimension – not only are you glued to the page wondering what the heck is going to happen to poor Casey, but also who is the serial killer and how this is going to play out in this strange tale. There also is a pretty nifty surprise ending which some people may see coming, but still is very satisfying.
The only real complaint I have involves the characters. Since everyone is a suspect as the killer, Janz has to make them all rather unlikable people. On top of that, when the priests, detectives, and the family are not in battle with the demon in the kid’s bedroom, the story line shifts to passages where the main characters are gathered in the hallway outside Casey’s room or in the kitchen while arguing, blaming, ridiculing and otherwise screaming at each other. When this is going on, Janz inadvertently makes the demon more interesting than the humans (who are coming across as idiots). This is a relatively minor flaw, though. Overall, the tension is unflagging as you rush to a rip-roaring conclusion. Exorcist Road is a great read.