Reviewed by Marcus van Steen, the Brantford Expositor
This is a compelling book, a cry for peace at a time of widespread anarchy and unfettered violence. The author, David Beasley, was born in Hamilton. After graduating from McMaster University he traveled widely in Europe, and spent two years teaching in Vienna, where this novel is set. The first character we meet is Abel Kingston, an English artist who is forced to teach English because he cannot sell his modernist paintings. The main character appears when Abel gives a young man shelter from the rain and finds that his name is Cain Brooks. Cain immediately refers to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel pointing out that Cain killed Abel. He proceeded to tell the story to a perplexed Abel, "Abel was the shepherd," he said, "and Cain was the tiller of the soil. When Cain brought the fruit of the field as an offering to the altar of God, he was dismayed that Abel had won God's special favor by laying the body of a slain lamb on the altar. Cain found it strange that God should prefer a slaughtered innocent body to the natural fruits of the land."
He went on to explain that he realized that this God was not the Holy Spirit he communicated with in the fields. "I do believe," he added, "that it is to save humanity from this blind worship of a false God that providence has brought us together. It is up to Cain and Abel to remold the world." This is the point where the story becomes really interesting and exciting. Cain gathers a handful of converts who accept his message and believe that if enough people embraced the great truth that God reveals himself in man's humanity, the world would be a gentler and happier place. Cain even recruits some Christian ministers who are won over by his argument that the organized churches through the centuries urged people to become saints and the more saintly they are the less human they become and the less tolerant and understanding. That, says Cain, is because they are serving a false god - "That Other God" of the title. Of course there is a great deal of other activity among the growing number of people who get involved with Cain and Abel. Cain gets married and his bride is underway to becoming a mother by the time the story ends. Abel becomes a popular preacher for the new Humanist Movement. He is also keen to marry, but his prospective bride feels she cannot leave her aged mother. But in the end it is Cain's vision of a peaceful and perfect world that is the dominant theme. At the end, there is the solace that another attempt next year might succeed. This is David Beasley's most important book since 1977 when his biography of Canada's first novelist, John Richardson, appeared under the title "The Canadian Don Quixote."