′There is no god,′ I told him. Then I drove the syringe up into his nostril and straight through the side of his nose.′
Joe Panther is a psychotic, alcoholic, violent, substance-abusing heroin dealer. He is also, he believes, Joshua Ben Pantera, born two thousand years ago, the son of Mary and the Lord God Yaweh Himself, not dead yet, the crucified Jesus: still around, abandoned by his Father, abused by the world, and as pissed off as hell.
Questions for Discussion
1. Joe Panther believes he is Jesus Christ. Do you? Why?
2. Do you find that the humour in the novel crosses the line from amusing to offensive? Why are some gags acceptable, and others not?
3. How does the novel depict heroin addiction? Does it glorify it, condemn it, or portray it in a value-neutral manner?
4. The Second Coming is crime fiction yet it also incorporates elements of history and theology. How elastic do you think the crime genre can be?
5. Are any of the characters "healed" or "redeemed" by their contact with Joe Panther? Is there room for redemption in the world of the novel?
6. To what extent does The Second Coming reverse our expectations of good and evil?
7. Joe Panther is the central character of the novel but is he a hero in the traditional sense? Can a heroin dealer be a hero?
About Andrew Masterson