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Book Review: The Stranger in the Lifeboat

By Robert McCool

And now a brief word about the Lord.

Mitch Albon's new novel “The Stranger in the Lifeboat” (Harper Collins: ISBN978-0-06-288834) is a conundrum and mystery. Is it a discussion about God, or is it a study into the human condition? It is both.

A $200,000 yacht explodes in the middle of the ocean. All that's left behind is a raft containing ten people. They are a mixed group containing men and women and a young girl named Alice.

And then they are confronted by a man floating in the water three days after the explosion. When he's pulled into the raft someone says, “Thank the Lord we found you.” The man whispers back, “I am the Lord.” 

He drinks from the raft's water stock and eats their limited food. When questioned, the Lord answers the group's request to be saved from their predicament. He replies, “I can save you if you all believe in me.” Instead  he is met with scorn and disbelief.

The sun and ocean, and thirst and hunger begin to take them one by one until the only ones left are a young man named Benji, the girl Alice and the Lord. Do these two castaways believe in the Lord enough to be saved?

Benji has been keeping a journal of his journey in the raft where he protects his writing in a plastic bag  hidden in a fold of the boat's carcass.

A year later the raft washes up on an island's beach. It falls to the island's chief inspector, Jarty Lefluer. to figure out the mystery created by the raft. Were there survivors? And if so, where are they now? Jarty finds the notebook, but it does leave a lot of things unexplained. In the very last pages he still has questions about any survivors. The ending of the book is a most mysterious twist.

The author, Mitch Albon, has written seven New York Times bestsellers, and his work has sold more than forty million copies in forty-seven languages worldwide. His writing is smooth and clearly understood. It only took me one sitting to read the book, yet some of the questions it presents have stuck with me and my inner self. It is not a dictum from God, rather it is a question of belief.

And belief is also a mystery.


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