Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: The Legend of Annie Murphy

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Legend of Annie Murphy

Author: Frank Peretti

Date: 1996

Publisher: Word

ISBN: 0-8499-3645-4

Length: 151 pages

Quote: “If we were really dead, we’d be in heaven…Annie Murphy…must have looked like a ghost to those other people. But she doesn’t have to be dead to do that.”

According to the legend, Annie Murphy was a murderer who escaped from prison just before she was hanged. Some people claim that if they look at the distant cliff face the right way, they can see the image of a Victorian working-class woman carved into the rock. Some claim that those who camp on her grave site will also become “ghosts,” though others doubt that Annie Murphy was ever actually buried…at least, not in their little town, Bodine…

Jay and Lila Cooper can’t resist a mystery. They go out to the grave site. They see a thin, flat image of Mrs. Murphy in the air. Then they’re sucked through a time warp into the past, where people see them as thin, flat images, too, and they realize that Mrs. Murphy is trapped in the time warp.

The philosophical questions associated with time travel beg for attention. Peretti and the Cooper Kids give them that attention in a lively adventure story that clears Annie Murphy’s name and allows the townspeople to appreciate the memorial to herself she’s carved while in the time warp.

The theological question of “the state of the dead” has been debated among Christians for hundreds of years. It is, of course, asociated with the question of time travel. Do resurrected souls wake up all at once, on some unspecified future “Judgment Day,” or do they trickle into Heaven by ones and twos, as they left this world, so that a person who died in 2015 is in Heaven in 2016? Catholicism has historically taught that someone who died last night may be in Heaven (or more likely in Purgatory) today; Protestantism, that the dead are currently “at rest” until they all wake up together for the Judgment—though there are crossover opinions on both sides. Peretti doesn’t address these questions in The Legend of Annie Murphy. Christian readers can discuss them before or after reading his book.

What about the question of whether this kind of story should be read on Sunday? I have no opinion, because actually, as regular readers may have noticed, as a whole-Bible Christian I rest from work and secular amusement on Saturday. (I've been known to break this rule; nobody is perfect.) This web site usually offers a review of something that can be called a Christian book, in some sense or other, on Sunday. Almost all of those book reviews have been written and posted during business hours, weeks in advance.

Meanwhile, for those who like adventure stories with Christian characters, it's possible to get either this one or all eight Cooper Kids Mysteries as Fair Trade Books. Send, to either address at the bottom of the screen, $5 for each (used) copy, or $55 for the (new) set, plus $5 per package; I can't guarantee that all eight books will fit into one package, but I'll squeeze down.