Review of Puzzle Master by T J McKenna

February 17, 2017

puzzle-master-coverAfter reading this novel, I am still wondering if it is science fiction or religion fiction. What is surely proved is that is the most religious and spiritual book I ever read in my lifetime. Although it is set in a hedonistic, atheist and selfish future, topics and underlying sense drive us to deepen the Bible once again. I am discussing about Puzzle Master, the book written by T J McKenna.


The novel is set in 2202 A.D., in a future world occupied only by feelings contrary to the faith in God. In this world, any religions and believers are banned, including Christians. Furthermore, the US Government set some laws to prevent that other religions arise, because they has been considered as a cause of the holy wars. In this futuristic world, Christians are hunted by a special corps in charge of kill them on the spot, while people have been led since their childhood to hate religion by eminent teachers. Professor Cephas Paulson is one of them. That is an eminent history teacher who also works as a Cult Hunter, a sort of atheist hero that the Government appointed to hunt and kill all Christians still remained on the Earth! The few remaining hide themselves in secret hideouts and communicate among them through secret codes that the Cult Hunter must detect and destroy. During this dangerous mission, Cephas is approached by three beautiful women, her personal assistant Janet, Jocie, a charming and seductive girl who looks like Barbie, beautiful outside and empty inside, and one of his students Martha McLeod, who approaches the Cult Hunter during one of his lessons against religion. Cephas is accustomed to be approached by many women who, fascinated by his eminent role, offer him to have sex, but Cephas falls in love with Martha, a clever and shrewd woman capable to counteract his thesis against religion. Is she, perhaps, Christian? During the story, the Cult Hunter will realize that each of these women is not who he believes they are. This detail can even endanger not only his role as a cult hunter, but also his same life. Cephas, indeed, discovers that his home is often bugged by secret agents who want to control his life and prevent him to be killed by a group of cultists called Four. At a certain stage of the story, the Cult Hunter can’t trust anybody, not even his loved Martha, because, if she is really Christian, she could also kill him and in this case, as a perfect Cult Hunter, he should, in turn, kill her. But the main task of Cephas is not to fall in love and find his soul mate, he was not created and trained for this, but only to fight the religious beliefs responsible of the Holy Wars. This topic is the proper excuse to talk about the burning issues of our modern world, namely religion used to put each person against others, especially Christians against Muslims. In the book, this theory is particularly fostered by the US Government that wants all believers to be killed and demands that Cephas travels back into time to prove that Jesus Christ is a fraud.


The arrangement of the plot is as gripping as the background. The one described by the author is an atheist and lascivious world, where people are called not only to hate religion, but also the most important ethical values, such as marriage and parenthood. The regular sex in marriage is banned and people can also have sex in the streets in front of other persons who watch them. Abortion is easily permitted, while marriage is regarded as the worst slavery of Mankind. In short, this futuristic landscape is really creepy, but it is also the best literary strategy to prove that the good ethical values can never be forgotten. In this novel, the author shows two opposite worlds: atheism and faith and drives readers wondering what is best among them: a selfish and desperate world or a planet founded on the holy principles of God? The world described in Puzzle Master is our same world, where indifference and atheism are stronger and stronger and faith weaker and weaker, but the fault is not religion and holy wars, but men who manipulate religion to create a false belief that allows and justifies war. This is a book to read, if we want to continue believing. Indeed, the main character, Cephas, will have to go back to the past to discover the truth about Jesus Christ and himself, in order to retrieve his lost belief.

Style of writing

The book has a compelling and fast paced writing style. Just made to keep readers glued from the first to the last page of the novel. I have an only remark about the writing style of the author: he used the present tense instead of the past tense, but, overall, the work is greatly appreciable.

Suitable for translation into Italian?

Yes, the book is highly suitable for translation into Italian. The topics are very interesting and face burning issues that engage Italian and European readers, also.


Five stars. I would have given four stars, because of  the detail of the present tense instead of the past tense,  but, by continuing reading,  I realized that the present tense, especially in the final chapters of the book, when the character travels back into time to meet Jesus Christ, made the novel poignant and almost alive.

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