Where National Security Meets Eternal Security
When NCIS Special Agent Jeff Walton walked into an airport newsstand in 2009 and bought a book about Bill Wiese’s alleged out-of-body trip to hell, he did so out of pure boredom. The last thing he expected was to read a purported “eyewitness” account about a highly sensational experience that might actually be true. Within weeks, Walton found himself devouring books from other authors about similar experiences. He then branched out into studies about near-death experiences. Concerned that he had stumbled onto a subject matter that had received little serious mainstream discussion, he embarked on pulling together related information—connecting the dots—until he ended up with his message in Final Departure. The novel is Walton’s way of sounding the alarm about eternity in an entertaining yet thoughtful and informative way.
Final Departure is actually a departure from the traditional Christian apologetics book or Christian inspirational novel. Set in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the story begins with retired NCIS Special Agent Dan Lucas, who gets stranded overnight by an ice storm and then ensnarled in a contentious, often raucous marathon debate about God and the meaning of life, with fellow traveler Ben Chernick, a college professor who has neatly excluded the Almighty from every facet of his life.
The tack taken by Walton, though, is a bit different. He injects the analytic mindset and steely determination of a counterintelligence professional into the Dan Lucas character. Through Lucas, we get insights into the hidden world of NCIS counterintelligence and combating terrorism operations and investigations. We also get some insight into the culture and challenges that a career NCIS special agent and his family face.
Walton, a now retired 29-year NCIS veteran, also injects some of his personal history into the story to give it authenticity.
Another departure of the book is its take on the weighty issues of life, death, and the afterlife, and most pointedly, the authenticity of the Bible and the existence of heaven and hell. Walton examines the topics at considerable length through his characters, in an interrogatory style laced with supporting facts and dry humor. He also injects his views of contemporary issues as seen through the lens of a Christian who also happens to have been a counterintelligence practitioner.
Not preachy, and certainly not shy, Final Departure focuses the reader’s attention on who gets into heaven and who misses the cut—and the chilling results the latter produces. It also poses some hard questions about how life originated and developed on earth.
Based on a distillation of research by historians, scholars, and scientists—Christian and secular—the book takes the reader on a survey of supernatural events which occur in the natural world, that are mirrored in the Scriptures. He places special emphasis on near-death experiences and their potential impact on Christianity and the world of faith. Through his characters, Walton also calls out what he perceives to be a secular antireligious bias in our culture—a bias that prevents today’s society from considering real-time events from a supernatural, biblical perspective.
Distressing, yet at the same time reassuring, Final Departure gives the reader layers of action and themes that touch on some of life’s most profound questions: How did we get here? Does it matter how we treat others? What is the real meaning of life? Issues, from Walton’s perspective, that don’t get nearly the attention they merit in an age of sensory overstimulation and a fixation on the trivial and the mundane.
Tightly woven with a backdrop of human tragedies and edgy side forays into drug abuse and crime, the story pulls the reader along as the main characters bare their souls and allow the reader access to their core beliefs and thoughts about betrayal, remorse, forgiveness, and love.
Final Departure is a statement and a challenge. If you can, disprove Walton’s assertions projected through Dan Lucas. But keep your mind open and be objective. What you read may change the way you live. Walton believes that Final Departure will take you on a journey with no return flight. He might even get you to the destination he has in mind.
Review by former Chief of Operations, CIA Counterterrorist Center
"A must read for adults of all ages! Final Departure is a sobering and introspective look at life, death and beyond from a Biblical perspective."
Mark Clookie, Director, NCIS (retired)
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