The Ambition by Lee Strobel is the best-selling journalist's first novel. Several stories of high-powered men in Chicago come together in a climactic way. The Bugatti brothers are known for their control of the Chicago mafia and their business as cut-throat loan sharks. Tommy O'Sullivan has coasted through much of his life on his last name until a gambling addiction puts him deep in debt to the Bugattis and he participates in a bribe that will change the city forever. Eric Snow is a respected pastor of a megachurch in Chicago who is thinking about switching careers to politics, but his best friend questions his motives. Garry Strider's life is going pretty well, with a successful career as an investigative journalist and live-in girlfriend, Gina. But when Gina gets some religion, she moves out and starts pushing him to consider finding faith himself so they can be married. Instead Garry starts investigating the pastor at Gina's church, Eric Snow. Strobel takes these disconnected stories and weaves them with suspense until they come together with a crash. Where Strobel really shines is in his portrayal of Snow and his church. The church tries so hard to fit in with pop culture, that they try to play it down when miracles begin occurring there. They refuse to call them miracles or anything supernatural in order to keep from being attacked by scientists and atheists. Strobel really doesn't have time to develop the characters too deeply but the story is entertaining and thought-provoking. Strobel wrote the premier apologetic work of the late twentieth century in The Case for Christ. This doesn't live up to that level of writing, but it's a good read that will keep readers turning the pages. I hope that Strobel gives fiction another shot soon.
The Ambition is written by Lee Strobel author of the Case for Christ series. This book is Mr. Strobel's first fiction book and it is well-written and fast paced. This book draws on Strobel's experience as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and reveals an insider's tale of power, politics and payoffs that is as current as today's headlines. The characters in this book are well developed and the plot is rich. This is an enjoyable book with an important message about hypocrisy and knowing and living out God's will. I enjoyed this book a great deal, and I believe you will also.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Everyone (well, almost) is familiar with Lee Strobel's best-selling non-fiction works of Christian apologetics, but his latest release is something quite different - and exciting. The Ambition is Strobel's first major work of fiction, and though it is written in a genre that I don't normally read, I was very interested in reading the results of his latest writing efforts. I wasn't disappointed.
When Tom O'Sullivan, a struggling lawyer with a gambling problem, accepts the task of slipping a bribe to a judge, he didn't know the trouble he was in for. When this same judge turns out to be a forerunner as a replacement for a corrupt senator, things are looking bad. Eric Snow, the pastor of a suburban mega church throws his hat into the ring as a contender, attempting to downplay his spiritual affiliations and essentially denying God's hand at work. Thrown into the mix are also a strident investigative journalist, struggling through difficult financial times for his paper and trying to dredge up a story to save his job.
Written with all the earmarks of a legal/political thriller, Strobel deftly mixes the strands of political ambition, organized crime, legal corruption, and faith into a fast-moving blend that keeps the pages flipping. There are quite a few characters (mostly male) to keep up with, the storylines are thoroughly interwoven, and this testosterone-driven tale is punchy and intense. Drawing upon his own experiences as a journalist and pastor, The Ambition comes across as very realistic - this is the turf Strobel learned to write on after all.
Better than solidly written, Strobel shows real potential as a fiction author, and based on the cover style (it reminds me of the Left Behind series packaging) it seems that Zondervan agrees. I wouldn't be surprised if we see future installments in this same vein from Strobel. More than a passing curiosity (hey, let's see what Lee Strobel has gotten himself into now), this debut novel is both enjoyable, realistic, and points the way to very real political/faith collisions while asking meaningful questions about priorities.