Robert Luedke’s Eye Witness II: Acts of the Spirit continues the story of forensic archaeologist Dr. Terrance Harper following the discovery of scrolls with Joseph of Arimethea’s firsthand account of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Christ. The first book set up well as a thriller, giving an ancient revelation suddenly thrust into the complexities of the modern world. Fears of renewed anti-Semitism prompt government officials to cover up the discovery, but Harper demands it be announced for the sake of science. The impact of the scroll is monumental, and he himself becomes Christianized.
In the second book, the story follows the cliffhanger of a suicide bomber exploding just outside of Harper’s cab. Recovering in the hospital after his near-death experience, Harper goes through a series of drug-induced hallucinations that depict the last portion of the Gospels and leads into the Book of Acts. His doctor, Dr. Lucas, also serves as the form for his spirit-guide in the persona of the biblical Greek physician Luke. The comic describes Luke as “The Ghost of Easters Past.” In very similar fashion as the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, he transports Harper to observe different events from the Bible. He sometimes interacts and other times seems invisible, making the rules for the imaginary world muddled.
The Bible stories come fast, almost too fast to get the full experience. Jesus is shown in his post-grave adventures following the angels appearing to the women at the tomb; Peter meets Jesus; Jesus shows himself to travelers at Emmaus and, of course, in the Upper Room. More stories give the accounts of Peter and John arrested for healing the crippled beggar, the stoning of Stephen, and ultimately the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus. Each is given only a few pages, making it difficult for the stories to breathe and fully draw in the emotions of the reader.
While the stories themselves are snippets, the story arc in the modern world flows very well. The transition between the modern world hospital and the biblical narratives is the cleverest part of Acts of the Spirit. Each time Harper goes into a story, it correlates with actions in the hospitals such as the flaming tongues of the Spirit at Pentecost being Dr. Lucas restarting Harper’s heart with a defibrillator. Harper struggles to recover his wounds and relapses due to organ failures from poisoning by the conspirators attempting to silence him forever. The conspiracy expands from Israeli officials to the military, mercenaries, kidnapping, extortion, and men in black.
Acts of the Spirit is a solid continuation of the thriller begun with A Fictional Story of Absolute Truth. The plot deepens and new characters expand the universe. While the biblical stories come like rapid fire, the storyline keeps them flowing not only with Harper’s struggle in the modern world but also the gradual shift of attention to Saul of Tarsus, the torturer of Christians who saw the light face-to-face. The book works well as a bridge in the story, setting up Saul for Book III while giving a new twist to the conspiracy in the modern world.