|V. Mark Covington|
What do Margaritas, Hurricanes, mud wrestling, hushpuppies, the Red Cross, and Patrick O’Brien’s New Orleans bar have in common? Not much is probably the correct answer; however, V. Mark Covington’s new novel, Church of the Path of Least Resistance, brings all these things together in a Forest Gumpian swashbuckling modern-day/flashback pirate story that is sure to please. The plot is complicated, but I will try to summarize without being a spoiler.
Mike Campari, a youth guidance counselor, searches for Jack Wolfe, a teenaged boy who has been abducted by a cult. Mike’s life is turned upside down when, for no apparent reason, he is marked for death and must run for his life to a hideout in the slums of Atlantic City. Desperate, Mike calls on lifelong friend and bank computer techie, John Wyle, and they both become hunted. John is organized and serious; Mike is carefree, a pretty Italian “Adonis” who always makes time for the ladies. The guys are like oil and water, but interact in comical ways with charming banter throughout the story.
John is the great-great-grandchild of Captain William Beauregard Wye of the Confederate States Navy ship, Tyranny Unmasked, who, in 1865, was ordered by President Jefferson Davis to protect the CSA gold when the Union Army overran Richmond. The story interweaves Mike and John’s history of friendship, their search for Jack Wolfe and their near-death encounters with assassins with the historical life and loves of Captain Wye, the CSA gold, the Caribbean, pirates, a treasure map linked to an old CSA flag, New Orleans, French prostitutes, and a cult called “A-Cent Youth Rescue Mission” in twisted turns that make the book almost impossible to put down.
Mike and John eventually discover the hit men are linked to the A-Cent compound in Arkansas, where Jack has been taken. As they plot to rescue Jack, they meet Molly, another escapee from the compound, and, through even more historical links to Captain William Wye, devise a plan to infiltrate the cult with a group of Civil War re-enactors and fifteen live-fire Civil War replica cannons. That’s when the U.S. Government gets involved.
Before it’s all over, many bodies are left in the wake of this story, and the reader is treated to surprise after surprise as the “origins” of mud wrestling, hushpuppies and the like are revealed. Do the boys save Jack, get the girls and the gold … or does the evil IRS win the day? I’m not telling, but I will say the story has a delightful ending that will leave every reader smiling … if not slapping his forehead and wondering, “Why didn’t I see that coming?”