Moving the Ministry of Women from Theology to Practice | Influence Podcast


This podcast begins with a paradox: On the one hand, the Assemblies of God recognizes the credentialed ministry of women at whatever level God has called and empowered them. On the other hand, AG women often face barriers to ministry leadership simply because they are women.

In this podcast, I’m talking with Beth Grant and Crystal Martin about how to resolve this paradox, that is, about how to move the ministry of women from something we affirm theologically to something we practice routinely.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. Beth Grant is co-founder and executive director of Project Rescue, an international ministry to survivors of sex trafficking; an executive presbyter of the Assemblies of God; and author of Courageous Compassion: Confronting Social Injustice God’s Way. Crystal Martin is director of the Assemblies of God’s Network of Women Ministers, director of Cross-Cultural Missions for Chi Alphacampus ministry, and associate pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri. Both women are ordained Assemblies of God ministers.

Jesus the Great Philosopher | Book Review


In the 1920s and 30s, European archaeologists excavated the Roman colony of Dura-Europos in eastern Syria. Sassanid Persians laid siege to the city in 256 A.D., so residents prepared its defense by stuffing soil and debris into the houses and rooms built into the city walls. To no avail, unfortunately, at least in terms of the city, which was defeated and never rebuilt. Seventeen hundred years later, however, the archaeologists uncovered a treasure trove of art and artifacts, all protected by the very soil and debris that had proved so useless against the besieging Sassanids.

One of those treasures was a house church decorated with frescoes of scenes from the Gospels. Interestingly, in all those scenes, the artist depicted Jesus as wearing the clothes and hairstyle, and standing in the typical posture, of a philosopher. Which poses the question:

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal philosopher?

If that question seems strange to you, it’s probably because you think of a philosopher as a tweedy Ivy League professor — no doubt an atheist! — talking in academic jargon about highly speculative questions that no one in real life ever even asks.

Regardless of whether that’s an accurate picture of contemporary philosophy — and in my experience as a college philosophy major, it’s not — that’s certainly not the way the ancient world thought about philosophy. As Jonathan T. Pennington writes in Jesus the Great Philosopher:

On the contrary, philosophy was the necessary bedrock for individuals and society. Philosophy in the ancient world was the lodestar, the scaffolding, the guide by which humans could experience true happiness; it was the vision for life itself. Philosophy provided the vision for the Good and the goodness of life.

Once you understand philosophy that way, as a vision for life itself, it makes perfect sense to see Jesus as a great philosopher — the Great Philosopher, in truth. To follow Him is to live out His wisdom in every area of your life. And didn’t He say, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10)? If Christ didn’t come to offer us a partial life, why in the world would any of us settle for one?

Unfortunately, many Christians do exactly that because they have an attenuated understanding of what Christianity is. Instead of a philosophy for the whole of life, they see it as a religion, as a doctrine of salvation, as something that pertains to the spiritual life.

According to Pennington, the problem with this attenuated understanding is fourfold:

  1. “Our Christian faith is often disconnected from other aspects of our human lives.”
  2. “We naturally look to other sources — alternative gurus — to give us the wisdom needed to live flourishing lives, to find the Good Life.”
  3. “We have stopped asking a set of big questions that Holy Scripture is seeking to answer—questions about how the world really works, and how to live in it.”
  4. “We limit our witness to the world.”

In order to correct this wrongheaded interpretation of Christianity, Pennington surveys the “big ideas” of the Old and New Testaments, then examines how the philosophy of Jesus educates our emotions, restores our relationships, and prepare us to live happy, human lives. As he does this, he compares and contrasts Christianity with alternative philosophies, both ancient (the ones the writers of Scripture engaged) and modern (the ones we do).

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself at this point, It sounds like Pennington is just reducing Jesus to another philosopher, teacher, or guru. That’s not who Jesus is, according to Scriptures! And you’re right, of course, that’s not who Jesus is. At least not merely. Christ is God Incarnate, a truth that Pennington affirms.

But that truth about the Christ the Incarnate Word doesn’t lessen the importance of acknowledging Jesus as your personal philosopher — it deepens it! Here’s how Pennington puts it:

In comparison with the Christian philosophy, all other views on relationships, emotions, and happiness are fractional and incomplete (and sometimes just flat wrong). Or to think of it constructively, because Jesus is the actual Logos — the organizing principle of the world, the agent of creation, the being that holds the whole universe together — this means that his philosophy alone is whole, complete, and really true.

Several decades ago, Evangelism Explosion popularized the diagnostic question, “Have you come to the place in your life where you know that if you died, you would go to heaven?” It’s a good question, obviously, but most of us have a lot of living before we die. So perhaps, in addition to that question about our eternal destiny, we should also ask this one about our temporal circumstances: “Have you come to the place in your life where you know how to live life to the full?”

Jesus does, so let us hold fast to his philosophy.

Book Reviewed
Jonathan T. Pennington, Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

P.P.S. This review is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com.

The Sentinel | Book Review


The Sentinel is the 25th novel featuring Jack Reacher and cowritten by Lee Child and his younger brother, Andrew, who according to reports is assuming authorship of the series going forward.

It begins with the attempted kidnapping of Rusty Rutherford, the erstwhile IT manager of Pleasantville, Tennessee, who lost his job and his good name when forces unknown launched a ransomware attack against all the municipality’s software systems. Serendipitously, as is the case with all the novels in the series, Reacher arrives in town just in time to witness and prevent the kidnapping. One thing leads to another, and Reacher finds himself squaring off against the intelligence service of a U.S. national enemy that has a secret buried in the files of one of Pleasantville’s servers that it would rather not see the light of day.

My two rules of thumb for suspense novels are that they keep me turning the page to find out what happens next and that they do not test my willing suspension of disbelief—which all fiction requires of readers—too far. The Sentinel passes both tests, with two caveats:

First, what is captivating about Child’s series is its kinetic force, both figuratively (the pace of his plots move quickly and constantly) and literally (his fight scenes are the best written ones I’ve read). The plot of The Sentinel moves quickly, but I felt it slowed down somewhat in the middle—not so much that I put the book down, but just enough that I noticed it.

Second, nothing in the novel per se tested my willing suspension of disbelief, but as a reader of all the novels in the series, not to mention the numerous novellas and short stories, a nagging suspicion kept lurking in the back of my mind that Reacher is too old to keep beating the younger men who continue to stupidly pick fights with him. In Child’s fictional universe, Jack Reacher was born on October 29, 1960. (The Sentinel rreleased on two days before that date this year, not uncoincidentally.) That means Reacher is 60 years old. Knowing Reacher’s age, and knowing that he’s been effectively homeless for 23 years—the Army cashiered him in 1997, eats garbage food, and stays in rat trap motels, one begins to wonder when (or whether) unhealthy living (and all-out brawls) will begin to take their toll.

Even so, Reacher’s age doesn’t come up explicitly in this novel, so if you don’t know the backstory, that lingering doubt won’t arise. And like I said, the novel is a page-turner.

So, four stars from me. I am very curious about how Andrew Child will move the series forward, so I will make sure to look for his first solo Reacher novel next year…just in time for Reacher’s 61st birthday.

Book Reviewed
Lee Child and Andrew Child, The Sentinel (New York: Delacorte Press, 2020).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

Models of Evangelism | Book Review


Because the euangelion (Greek, “good news”) is the center of Christianity, evangelism is a core function of the Christian church. But how is it best practiced? Models of Evangelism by Priscilla Pope-Levison answers that question by identifying eight types of evangelism, each of which is characterized by “longevity,” “a substantial body of literature,” and “a significant number of proponents.”

Pope-Levison offers these definitions of the eight models:

  • Personal: developing a one-on-one relationship that provides a comfortable context for evangelism
  • Small group: convening eight to twelve people for a short-term, focused study on the gospel
  • Visitation: knocking on doors, getting to know neighbors’ needs and religious inclinations, and initiating conversations about the gospel
  • Liturgical: integrating evangelism into the church’s worship as it follows the Christian calendar
  • Church growth: establishing new ports of entry that receptive people can easily join in order to be introduced to the gospel
  • Prophetic: challenging individuals and structures to pursue the gospel in word and deed in its social, political, and economic fullness
  • Revival: an organized, crowd-based gathering that typically includes music, an evangelistic message, an invitation, and follow-up
  • Media: appropriating media ranging from the printed word to the internet for an evangelistic purpose.

For each model, she identifies its biblical, theological, historical, and practical foundations, then provides a fair-minded appraisal of its strengths and weaknesses.

To illustrate Pope-Levison’s methodology, consider how she treats personal evangelism. Biblically, the New Testament contains “countless examples … of individuals sharing good news one-on-one.” Pope-Levison focuses especially on such encounters from the Gospel of John and the Book of Acts.

Theologically, personal evangelism “finds its orientation in two theological foci: Christology and Pneumatology,” specifically the Incarnation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus was sent into the world to make known the invisible God,” Pope-Levison writes. “He entrusted and commissioned his disciples to make the invisible God known to the world.” After His ascension, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on His followers as “the divine instigator and guide for personal evangelism.” Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:29–30 is an example of Spirit-instigated personal evangelism.

Historically, Pope-Levison shows that many individuals have come to saving faith in Christ through the personal evangelism of an acquaintance. She mentions Dwight L. Moody in the 19th century and Charles Colson in the20th. She also points out that personal evangelism is the preferred strategy of campus ministries such as InterVarsity, Navigators, and Cru.

Practically, Pope-Levison notes the “stark simplicity” of personal evangelism, which “requires no theological degree,” “demands no need to control a conversation,” “necessitates no hyperspirituality,” and “requires no sacred space.” Instead, personal evangelism builds on five core practices: 1) Begin with lifestyle evangelism, 2) raise your evangelistic temperature, 3) foster the relationship, 4) share the gospel, and follow up.

As she appraises personal evangelism, Pope-Levison notes that it is both the “simplest” and the “hardest” of the models of evangelism. Simplest because any Christian can do it with any nonbeliever anywhere and anytime. Hardest, however, because it imposes a potential cost on the evangelist.

Speaking for the evangelist, Pope-Levison writes, “I will bear the brunt of embarrassment; I will face the risk of rejection; I will be liable to the charge of ignorance; I will confront the reality that I am not yet a candidate for sainthood.” The motivation of the evangelist is thus “the key obstacle” to overcome in this model of evangelism.

One other concern Pope-Levison expresses about personal evangelism is its weak ecclesiology. She worries that“it may seem like the church, the body of Christ, is irrelevant.” After all, the focus is on individual conversion, not church membership. This is not an insuperable difficulty, however. Still, personal evangelists need to keep in mind that Christians are called to follow Christ not as lone rangers but in the company of other believers.

As noted above, Pope-Levison uses the same methodology for each model. As the book goes on, she demonstrates how these models intersect in various ways. They do not compete with one another so much as complement one another.

So, who should read Models of Evangelism? It is published by Baker Academic, so the intended readers are undergraduate and graduate students preparing for ministry in the local church. I think pastors and other church leaders would also benefit greatly from the book as they think about how their churches can evangelize their communities.

It is said that a woman approached Dwight L. Moody after one his evangelistic crusades and said, “I don’t like the way you do evangelism.”

Moody responded, “Well, ma’am, let me ask you, how do you do it?”

She said, “I don’t.”

To which Moody replied, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it!”

Whatever the model of evangelism, the important thing is just to do it.

Book Reviewed
Pope-Levison, Priscilla. 2020. Models of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

P.P.S. This review is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

Improving Your Preaching in the Coming Year | Influence Podcast


Preaching is one of a pastor’s most important duties. It’s also one of the most difficult. Every week, pastors stand before their congregations and proclaim the Word of God. And often, they leave the pulpit feeling that they have failed.

So, how can preachers get better at their craft? That’s the question I’m talking about with Chris Colvin and Dick Hardy in this episode of the Influence Podcast.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. Chris Colvin is a sermon consultant, author, and regular contributor to Influence, both print and online. He teaches The Preaching Track at ChurchUniversity.com. Dick Hardy is is cofounder of ChurchUniversity.com, which provides “online resources to unlock your church’s growth.”

The Uniqueness of Christ | Book Review


Chris Wright opens The Uniqueness of Christ by noting that “the supermarket mentality dominates popular thinking about religion” (12). This reduces religion to a “commodity” and a religionist to a “consumer” (13). Under this mentality, then, religion becomes a consumer product, and as the Latin aphorism puts it, De gustibus non disputandum est.

This mentality creates problems for those religions, such as Christianity, that makes absolute truth claims or require exclusive loyalty. With that in mind, Wright states the guiding question of the book: “So how then can we think clearly about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in the midst of the religious supermarket in which we live?” (13).

Chapter 1 outlines different aspects of the meaning of religious pluralism, among other things drawing a distinction between “plurality,” the undeniable sociological fact of diverse religions, and “pluralism,” a controversial interpretation of this fact that relativizes all religions.

Chapters 2–4 survey “three main positions that have been adopted by Christian theologians toward other religions” (35). The first is exclusivism, the view that “if Jesus Christ be uniquely the truth, and the only way of salvation for mankind, then that excludes the possibility of other faiths being true in the same way, or being ways of salvation” (38). The second is inclusivism, the view that “ultimately all truth is God’s truth, wherever it is found. So Christ, who is the Truth, must therefore include all that is true in other faiths” (58). As different as these two positions are, Wright notes, “The one, central, and all-important point that exclusivism and inclusivism have in common is their commitment to the centrality of Jesus Christ” (57).

This commonality sets them apart from pluralism, the third position, which holds that “all religions, including Christianity, are related in some way to this ‘God at the centre’, but none of those religions and none of the ‘gods’ they name and claim, is actually the central place” (73). Wright goes on, “It is the basic assumption of pluralism that no single religious tradition can claim to have or to be ‘the truth’. In fact, there is no absolute truth available to us through any religion. There are only partial understandings which are historically and culturally relative. So a theology of religious pluralism goes along with a philosophy of relativism — i.e., the denial of any absolute truth” (74).

Wright believes that pluralism is contrary to orthodox Christianity. “The shift to pluralism … requires either a complete surrender of the uniqueness of Christ, or such a radical redefinition of it that it loses all value” (72). He ends the chapter on pluralism (chapter 4) with this warning: “At best, ‘Christ’ becomes so universal as to be of no real value except as a symbol. At worst, he is exposed as an idol for those who worship him, and as dispensable for those who don’t” (85).

Chapters 5–6 turn to the Bible to help readers “think more clearly about the question of the uniqueness of Jesus” (87). (Wright is a British evangelical, and The Uniqueness of Christ was written with evangelical readers in mind.)

Chapter 5 explores what the Bible in toto says about the Jesus. It argues “first, that the Bible presents us with a radical and comprehensive understanding of the sinful predicament of the human race. It thus prepares us to appreciate what salvation has to be and that only God can save us. In the face of such depth, to talk of Jesus as merely one among any number of ‘saving points of contact with God’ seems an altogether trivial account of his significance” (104). Wright goes on to summarize the biblical data this way: “In Jesus, then, the uniqueness of Israel and the uniqueness of Yahweh flow together for he embodied the one and he incarnated the other. So he shares and fulfils the identity and the mission of both” (105). On this reading of the Bible, pluralism is a nonstarter.

Chapter 6 surveys the biblical narrative to determine what the Bible says about human religions. Wright concludes: “Religion like all things human, has good and bad dimensions, but is never portrayed in the Bible as the means of salvation. The Bible is concerned about people and God, and about the need for the nations to recognise who the true and saving God really is — revealed as Yahweh in the Old Testament and in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. It shows us that God can and does speak to people within the framework of religious understanding that they already have. But this is not in order to endorse that prior religion, but to lead beyond it to the fullness of revelation and salvation in Christ” (139).

Wright concludes The Uniqueness of Christ by exhorting evangelical Christians to do three things: “to clarify our thinkingabout the truth … . We need to strengthen our contending for the truth. And we need to renew our living of the truth” (143). If religion is a matter of truth rather than merely of consumer choice, something like Wright’s position is the only available option for evangelical Christians.

If Christ is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), then Christians should be able to demonstrate and defend this, with this caveat: “There is little point proclaiming how the gospel is true if people cannot see that it works. The fact of our contemporary western world is that for many people Christianity is not so much regarded as untrue (in the sense that they have considered its claims and rejected them for rational reasons), as simply implausible” (149). For that reason, “the church should be the ‘plausibility structure’ for the truth of the gospel” (idem).

If contemporary Westerners reject the truth of Christianity, in other words, it may because too few Christians live out the truth in their own lives.

Book Reviewed
Chris Wright, The Uniqueness of Christ (London: Monarch Books, 2001).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

To Fulfil, Not to Destroy | Book Review


Ivan M. Satyavrata’s To Fulfil, Not to Destroy is an epitome of the author’s doctoral dissertation, published as God Not Left Himself Without Witness.

The “fundamental question” the book asks is this: “Is there a way of relating the Christian faith and experience to other religions, which ascribes genuine value to the religious experience of people of other faiths, while affirming the essential claims of the Christian faith?” (Loc. 93).

Satyavrata argues that fulfillment theology offers an affirmative answer. He defines “fulfilment theology” as the theory which teaches that “all religious traditions have partial access to the truth, to spirituality, and to transcendence, but Christianity has access to them in all their fulness” (Loc. 108).

The history of Christian theology offers three models of fulfillment theology: “First, in the emergence of the Gospel from its theological cradle, the Jewish faith. Secondly, in the early Church’s encounter with Greek culture in the second and third centuries. Thirdly, in the nineteenth century Protestant missionary encounter with the religions of India” (Loc. 115). Satyavrata names these the “prophetic or promise” (Loc. 132), “Logos-historical” (Loc. 138), and “evolutionary fulfilment” (Loc. 152), models of fulfillment, respectively.

While there are differences between these models, Satyavrata writes: “All models of fulfilment accept the provisional nature of other religions with varying degrees of emphasis. All agree that these religions express human anticipation of something fuller, the fulness offered only in Christ. As Christ becomes known, he transforms, subsumes, and replaces all pre-Christian religions” (Loc. 160).

With this definition and typology in mind, Satyavrata spends the remainder of the book outlining the use of fulfillment theology in Christian mission to the Indian subcontinent. He looks specifically at the Scottish missionary John Nicol Farquhar and the Hindu converts Krishna Mohan Banarjea and Sundar Singh.

Early evangelical missions to India were negative and polemical, deeming “Hinduism” (a scholarly construct of the indigenous religious of the Indian subcontinent) as wholly without value. In combination with British imperialism, this confrontational approach alienated the Indian population from the gospel. The approaches taken by Farquhar, Banarjea, and Singh were positive and irenic, without, however, surrendering the finality of Christian revelation.

Although fulfillment theology won the theological day among missiologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it has fallen out of favor today for two reasons. First, it presumes a continuity between general revelation and specific revelation, whereby non-Christian religions can reflect the former and thus be fulfilled by the latter. However, in the mid-twentieth century, Hendrik Kraemer’s Barth-like missiology, which made the two radically discontinuous, won the day. Second, it presumes the finality of Christian revelation, which is controversial among religious pluralists, who believe, roughly, that all religions are equally valid, albeit partial, expressions of spiritual reality.

Satyavrata nonetheless concludes that fulfillment theology should be a live option for Christian mission in India, especially to counter the rise of Hindutva, which maintains that Christianity is a Western imperial intervention contrary to indigenous Indian spirituality. He concludes:

“Fulfilment theology enables the church to be faithful to its stewardship of the story of God’s decisive word and action in Christ, while demonstrating that there is nothing intrinsic to Christian faith that threatens the future of any indigenous cultural heritage. It can provide a basis for the Church to co-operate with people of all faiths in furthering the kingdom purpose of God for a better world, free of poverty, injustice and strife, challenging what is deficient and affirming what is of value in every religion, including Christianity as a religious system” (Loc. 808).

Book Reviewed
Ivan M. Satyavrata, To Fulfil, Not to Destroy: Christ as the Fulfilment of Hindu Experience in Indian Christian Theology,Kindle (Oxford, UK: Regnum, 2018).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

NIV Greek and English New Testament | Book Review


Nearly 30 years past my seminary education, I found that my facility with the Greek New Testament was much diminished. I purchased the NIV Greek and English New Testament to remedy that situation. It presents the Greek text underlying the New International Version (NIV) translation on facing pages. (See picture.) I find that this presentation makes it easier for me to determine what Greek words I need to focus on as I write articles or prepare sermons (for those occasions when I preach).

When the NIV translation was updated in 2011, the standard scholarly texts of the Greek New Testament at the time were the United Bible Society’s 4th edition and Nestle-Aland’s 27th edition. UBS and NA are now at 5th and 28th editions, respectively. Like UBS4 and NA27, the Greek text underlying the NIV (NIVGT) is eclectic. It is also largely the same as UBS4 and NA27, though there are 720 footnotes to document its differences from them.

The most notable difference between NIVGT and UB4/NA27 is formatting: “the NIVGT is formatted exactly like the NIV and uses NIV subheads and lists of parallel passages. This presentation makes it much easier to compare the Greek and English.”

One benefit of laying the Greek text alongside the NIV translation is that readers get to see where the NIV’s translation philosophy moves beyond word-for-word translation (formal equivalence) to something more like thought-for-thought translation (functional equivalence).

Take John 1:16, for example. The English Standard Version offers a straightforward formally equivalent translation: “For from his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace.” The NIV, on the other hand, renders it more functionally: “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” The Greek phrase underlying the difference between these two translations in the second half of the sentence is kai charin anti charitos. As a reader/preacher, it is helpful to be able to identify where the NIV has gone thought-for-thought to check the reliability of its functional translation in the commentaries, where grammatical considerations such as the kai/anti construction are discussed.

NIV Greek and English New Testament is a well-made product, easy to read, and easy to hold. If you are interested in keeping your Greek skills sharp and use the NIV as your primary translation, this is a good investment. It has been for me at least.

Book Reviewed
NIV Greek and English New Testament, ed. John R. Kohlenberger III (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

Pioneers, Settlers, and the Local Church | Influence Podcast


“God calls people to pioneer,” says Jeffery Portmann, “and simultaneously He calls others to become settlers.” Portmann isn’t talking about the settlement of new frontiers, however. He’s talking about ministry through the local church.

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to Portmann about why the Church needs both pioneers and settlers, as well as how best to be one or the other.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. Jeffery Portmann is executive director of the Church Multiplication Network, the church planting arm of the Assemblies of God (USA). He authored “Developing Leaders from Within” in the July/August 2020 issue of Influence magazine.

The Catch | Book Review


Mick Herron’s Slough House is where MI5 deposits the spooks it wants to fire but can’t, hoping they will quit out of shame, boredom, or fear of Jackson Lamb, the unhygienic Cold Warrior who rules the place like a personal fiefdom. Despite their incompetence—or perhaps because of it—the “slow horses,” as they’re derisively called, keep finding themselves in the middle of a national emergency or an MI5 op, which seem to be the same thing at times. And Jackson Lamb knows how to leverage these crises for the benefit of him and his crew.

Herron has published six novels in this series, with the seventh, Slough House, scheduled to release February 5, 2021. Each of them combines poetic prose (check out the openings and closings of each book especially), a convoluted plot worthy of John Le Carré, and some of the funniest characters and scenes in suspense noveldom. (You might hold your nose at Jackson Lamb’s vulgarity and stench, but he will make you laugh.)

In between novels, Herron occasionally produces novellas, such as The List (2015), The Drop (2018), and The Catch(2020). All of them feature John Bachelor, an MI5 “milkman” or handler of aged or retired MI5 assets, whose wife got the house and pension in the divorce and whose part-time salary doesn’t really cover expenses. So, as The Catch opens, he’s living in the apartment of the late Solomon Dortmund, last seen alive in The Drop and whose permanent retirement has not yet been noticed by “the Park” (MI5 HQ).

Or has it been? When Bachelor gets rousted out of Dortmund’s bed by Park employees, it’s clear HQ knows what’s going on. Bachelor is tasked with finding Benny Manors, a former asset he’s supposed to keep track of but lost long ago. In the process of finding him, Bachelor realizes Manors has the Jeffrey-Epstein goods on HRH What’s His Face, and alerts Lady Diana Tavener, the Park’s master, about Manors’ con in the offing. But when it comes to MI5, who’s conning whom?

Neither Jackson Lamb nor his Slough House epigones show their faces in The Catch, but Herron always seems to weave the threads of these novellas into his novels, so don’t be surprised if something here shows up in his forthcoming book in one way or another.

If you haven’t read the Slough House novels, you can skip The Catch, but if you’re current with the series and have a hankering for Herron, The Catch is a good, well, catch.

Book Reviewed
Mick Herron, The Catch (New York: SoHo Crime, 2020).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

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