By William Reynolds,, $16.95, 487 pages

10Conspiracy theorists abound in this country. Some people believe in their seemingly far-fetched and non-mainstream perception of events in America and abroad, and some people think they are a bunch of nut jobs. But regardless of one’s intellectual stance on conspiracy theories, it is undeniable that, whatever truth or fiction they hold, they are a lot of fun to lose oneself in—even if just for the duration of a novel. Such is the strength of William Reynolds’ Sanctify, a sprawling epic of sex, government corruption and cover-up, and hidden, devious CIA involvement in pretty much every large-scale political event of the last 60 years.

Sanctify tells the story of James Ortega and his search for his half-brother Jesus, who the family was led to believe was killed in action in Vietnam. Only upon word from Jesus’ one-time high school sweetheart, whom James has also bedded, does James begin to wonder about whether or not his brother is alive. Enlisting the help of friend and government employee Paul, an Army man who knows more about the hidden objectives of the military and CIA than most of us could ever hope to, James opens the door to a tidal wave of information, none of it in compliance with the official story. Told through a series of present-day scenes and flashbacks, the book builds towards a not-entirely-surprising climax.

This novel has some faults. At nearly 500 pages, it is a good 150 pages longer than it ought to be. Moreover, the description of women leaves something to be desired. Nearly every female introduced in the novel is defined more by the shape and size of her breasts than anything, and some “redneck” women, described as “ignorant, bovine girls,” are described as having “sagging udders.” Meanwhile, the men are hapless, childish, and philandering—all in all, rather unlikeable. Some of these character details simply feel unnecessary and detract from the purpose of the book—conspiracies behind some of the greatest tragedies in recent history. Nevertheless, Sanctify keeps its audience entertained, and may provoke thought and a slight shift in perception. That is a lot more than can be said for many books with similar subject matter.

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