The Holy, by Daniel Quinn. Context Books, c2002.

I picked this book off a truck of returned-books because the single-word title intrigued me. Holy what? The jacket blurb amplified the intrigue and I immediately got sucked into the novel.

Within the setting of a private investigation, the author explores the question of what it is that made Baal and Ashtaroth and Moloch and all the rest of the ancient gods so much more attractive to the Israelites than the God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Aaron asks, "What happened to them afterward? In scriptures, they are called "false gods", not figments. Did they die, or are they still somewhere in the world?" Howard is incredulous, but agrees to accept a retainer and work for a month. If he feels the question is not answerable, he will return the money.

Thus begins a chain of events that tests the credulity of readers. It encompasses altered reality, impossible coincidences, death, and the breakup of a family after the husband incomprehensibly goes walkabout. Howard no longer seems to be in control of the investigation, nor of the people he meets during its course. This could have been a great "Twilight Zone" episode!