Plain Heathen Mischief ups the existential ante, as Joel King, a defrocked Baptist minister, finds life even more bedeviling once he's served six months for a career-ending crime he might not even have committed. Now his incommunicado wife wants a divorce, the teenage vixen of his disgrace is suing him for a cool $5 million, a fresh start in Montana offers no hope for ex-cons of any religious persuasion, and the refuge provided by his sister turns as nasty as his parole officer. Talk about a crisis of faith.
On the upside,a solicitous member of Joel's former congregation invites him into a scam that could yield some desperately needed cash, and soon the down-on-his-luck preacher is involved with a flock of charming con men, crooked lawyers, and conniving youth.
In a feat of bravura storytelling, Martin Clark ranges from the cross to the double cross, from Virginia to Las Vegas, from jail cells to trout streams, as he follows his Job-like hero through dubious choices and high-dollar insurance hustles to a redemption that no listener could possibly predict. Wildly imaginative, at times comic, at times profoundly sobering, and even more audacious than his wonderfully idiosyncratic debut, Plain Heathen Mischief is a spiritual revelation of the first order.