Review of The God Complex

The God ComplexThe God Complex, by Chris Titus (see author interview), chronicles a man investigating the apparent suicide (or possible Mafia related murder) of his brother that was teaching English in Prague. This book was selected from Cheap eBooks.

Initial Thoughts

For a well-written book like this, I was disappointed after I finished reading. There were many great opportunities for a superb storyline, but these were glossed over and left behind in favor of a diary-style venting that was framed by a decent narrative. A lot of the characters had the potential for a great amount of depth and did indeed develop a little as the novel progressed, but the true potential of these characters – and several events – were missed.

Plot Holes and Unfinished Mystery

We begin the book with Marek, an aging officer on the police force in Prague, investigating the death of a man that allegedly jumped from a bridge where suicides had become a weekly (sometimes multiple times a week) occurrence. The only unusual thing is that the body has been completely burned, leading Marek to suspect the involvement of the Mafia.

The alleged jumper is Steve Benson and his brother Paul Benson is called out to Prague from Boston to retrieve the body and assist in the investigation. Paul arrives in Prague to be guided by Klára, one of Steve’s former English students. Klára then becomes Paul’s constant companion and translator throughout Prague and when dealing with the police. After Paul is settled into his hotel Klára brings him to Steve’s apartment – apartment 13. The number affects Paul (and does so again a couple of times), but nothing becomes of it. It was a McGuffin that never became anything.

Klára introduces Paul to Marek at Steve’s apartment. Marek asks Paul about the Mafia (another McGuffin that falls flat) and asks Paul to help decipher Steve’s journals.

Now at this point of reading, I was pulled in. There was a mystery afoot that involved a dead body possibly burned by the Mafia in a foreign city. This had a lot of potential to be fascinating.

Paul then glances through Steve’s notebooks and is confused by the Pentagrams of elements and cryptic writing that involved some Chinese characters. Alright, we’ve got ourselves a new layer to the mystery. Paul also reads of Steve’s medical problems, which (hypochondriacs beware) were pretty gross, and remembers his own frustration when he was living with his brother. We’ve got some character development here.

The storyline looses its way as we get deeper in to reading the journal. The section we read has a seemingly endless rant about not being able to have sex and the first tirade against the Western Medical system. It went on for too long and simply felt like the author was using the medium of a novel to rant. The rant does end eventually and Steve discovers Chinese medicine. He continues to see other Western doctors – including a Doctor Silberman that will become a significant character later on – even as he begins his Chinese medicine treatment. The journal then turns from a complaining rant to a lecture on Chinese medicine and martial arts.

Eventually we return to Paul in Prague and join him on a tour of Prague with Klára. Before the tour they stop at the apartment with Marek once more. At the end of Chapter 9 Paul overhears Klára on the phone say,

“I know what you are planning, and it scares me. Are you sure you can handle this?”

Ok – the mystery has returned and we’re pulled back in after that painfully long journal section.

Klára then takes Paul out on the town in Prague and leaves him at a nightclub after they talk of Steve and his journals with a warning against going to a woman’s apartment because of the risk of the Mafia (it would be better to bring her to Paul’s hotel). Nice – we’ve got a little sexual tension now.

Here’s where things get disturbing – a hooded figure (obviously Steve) kidnaps Doctor Silberman and imprisons him in a warehouse in Chapters 13-15.

We then return to Paul in Prague who visits an acupuncturist named Doctor Huang with Klára to ask about Steve. Doctor Huang speaks glowingly of Steve and does not think he would have committed suicide and could not have been killed by the Mafia (given his martial arts prowess) – disregarding the fact that the Mafia would just overpower Steve with guns or numbers or both. Dr. Huang then teaches Paul and Klára about Quigong, another section of the book that was more of a lecture on Chinese medicine than anything else

We get transported by to Steve torturing Doctor Silberman and promising the doctor symptoms and torture tantamount to what he went through himself. Afterwards, Paul continues to read Steve’s journals and we are taken through another section of complaining that becomes redundant very quickly.

Paul questions whether they have the correct body and Klára confirms the DNA tests matched Steve.

Chapters 23 through 38 then become a sick fantasy with Steve torturing Dr. Silberman (and bringing in a Doctor Yoshida) for months on end. He has clearly become sociopathic and extremely dangerous.

Granted, there is an awesome exchange at the end of Chapter 27. Steve says to Doctor Silberman,

“Look who’s finally admitting he thought he was God” to which Silberman replies, “As if you’re any different. Look at what you are doing to us here.”

Steve then “cures” the doctors with the same methods he used to make them sick. But we never see the doctors completely cured or released. We are simply brought to Paul, who receives a $20,000 life-insurance check and a postcard that leads him to Mykonos. Marek – remember him? – also finds the same postcard and goes to Mykonos. There they both encounter Steve and Klára, who have apparently been married this whole time. They cashed a $20 million life-insurance check and bribed the Greek government for protection. Oh and that Mafia connection? Steve killed and burned a Mafia body to replace his at the bridge – which he somehow got away with no backlash from the Mafia. And Klára replaced the DNA at the crime scene with Steve’s.

Concluding Thoughts

All said, the ending was extremely rushed, abrupt, and disappointing, which is why I gave it three stars. Nothing became of several McGuffins, long sections of the book were redundant complaining about a broken system, and most of the characters lacked the depth they were capable of.




Interview with Chris Titus, Author of “The God Complex”

The God Complex

How did you choose the subject that you wrote? 
The God Complex is a factional novel.  As such, it weaves fact and fiction together.  The book is based upon a difficult journey through healthcare that I traversed.  I felt the lessons learned were worth putting to paper for others to learn from.  I chose to blend my experiences with a fictional story line to make it more interesting for readers to digest the concepts discussed.

What is your writing process like? 
I was very dedicated and disciplined.  I spent 8 to 12 hours per day at Starbucks for three months straight.  I had a solid outline of what I hoped to accomplish with each chapter.  This ensured that I did not stray from the story as I had originally mapped it out.  Since the writing process is a creative one, it is easy to go off course and end up down paths that are more fun for the author to write than for the reader to read.   Once the first draft was finished, it took another year of editing before it was ready for release.

Are the events in the book somehow related to events of your own life, whether directly or indirectly? 
Approximately two-thirds of the book is true.  Events have been massaged to fit within the story line and to hide identities.  I think many people who read the novel are uncertain about how much of it is actually true.  To determine which aspects of the story are not true, consider that I would be writing you from inside of a jail cell if they were.

Do you think there will be a continuation of the book, whether another book or a short story, or some other medium? 
I would like to write another book.  Finding the time is one of the most difficult parts of being a writer.  I would like to turn this novel into a series.  Many reviews left on Amazon expressed disappointed that the story ended as abruptly as it did.  I think people wanted more from it.  Hopefully, I’ll find time to bring these characters to life once again.

How would you like readers to approach this book? 
This is a good question, one that I’ve not been asked before.  Readers should keep in mind that this is a factional novel.  More of this story is true than most people realize.  This book was written for patients struggling to find a cure, patients considering alternative medicine, families who struggle to understand the plights of their ill relatives, and most importantly, medical practitioners.  By weaving this into an action novel, it’s easier for people to understand the daily torture many go through in an effort to just get by.  My hope is that it will prod more people to consider their own opinions and approaches to healthcare.

What were the main influences on this book? 
The main influence was an undiagnosed illness that blindsided me the year I was getting ready to graduate from college.  Prior to this, I was cruising along in life.  I had good grades, enjoyed my studies, and was returning for senior year from a good internship.  Physically, I was a strong, athletic, and healthy kid.  A few months later, life careened off a cliff.

The next fifteen years led me to more than 140+ doctors.  Virtually all of them failed to figure out what was going on.  It would have been tolerable if they had failed with some humility.  However, I was shocked at the attitudes that accompanied the lack of competence.  It’s no wonder why the healthcare system is broken. Patients need to take their healthcare into their own hands.  This is one reason I felt compelled to write the book.

Who were the main influences on this book? 
I’ve had a long journey that was influenced by many people.  The people who have stood out the most have come from the five years I spent in Boston’s Chinatown receiving treatments, and studying medicine and martial arts.  This is where I met several knowledgeable teachers who helped guide my journey.

Ready to Read… The God Complex

“The God Complex gives readers a view into the world of Chinese medicine like they’ve never seen it before.  Uncover hidden connections between medicine and martial arts that have been shrouded in mystery for thousands of years.  You’ll solve a gripping medical mystery that confounded more than 140 physicians, leaving you wondering if you would have had the persistence and stamina to find your answers.”

The God Complex


Now let’s get to reading!