Vernon L. Oliver, still a young man, lives in a six-by-ten cell in a Florida prison. He has chosen the needle over the chair, has no desire to smell burned flesh on the day the state snuffs out his life. When his attorney suggests he write an autobiography to generate funds to cover legal fees incurred during the appeals process, Vernon sits down to pencil and paper and begins his narrative.
Miracles, Inc., Forrester's debut novel, tells the story of a charismatic slacker in love with Harley Davidson motorcycles and Rickie Terrell, a beautiful woman who quotes poetry and will not discuss her past. They live in an RV, smoke weed and drink beer, play Scrabble late into the night. His boss, a brilliant businesswoman with a far-reaching vision, offers him the chance to make more money than he ever thought was possible. He buys into the faith-healing scheme without reservation, and so begins the journey that leads to the stunning event that changes his life forever.
The rise and fall of a ne'er-do-well turned preacher fuels Forrester's promising debut. Waiting to be executed in a Florida prison, Vernon Oliver reluctantly agrees to write his autobiography at the request of his attorney, who hopes to sell it to cover Vernon's legal fees. His story begins 11 years earlier, in 1997, living in an RV park and working for Tabernacle Carnival, a shady Holy Roller church. His girlfriend, Rickie, sells Bibles, and the two are content to mostly get high and play Scrabble until carnival owner Miriam MacKenzie sees epic televangelist potential in Vernon and packs him off to religious boot camp where Vernon meets the actors who will receive his "healing" touch. Soon he's taking the stage in pyrotechnic displays of Jesus-loving fervor, amid cries of blasphemy from other Pentecostal leaders and a crumbling relationship with Rickie. While alternating between Vernon's autobiography leading up to the act that lands him on death row and his life in prison is a structural choice that mostly pays off, the depiction of life in prison suffers compared to the inventiveness of Vernon's life as a sham faith healer.