"Judge not, lest ye be judged."
These words have rarely if ever crossed the mind of Aberlene county judge Evan Spencer. From a middle class background, he graduated law school, married into wealth, and now has his eye on a Supreme Court seat. All seemed to be going well for Judge Spencer, until he received a package from an old college friend he hadn't heard from in years containing a cryptic note and a small stone. But in trying to track down his old friend, Spencer learns of the man's suicidal leap from the roof off a 20-story balcony.
Evan Spencer now has control of an object whose power is beyond anything he could possibly imagine—an object whose very existence has been kept under wraps by the Vatican for decades. Spencer has been given the Apocalypse Stone: the actual stone Christ used when he stated "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." Throughout history this stone has been passed along, inflicting its possessor with stigmatic wounds and vivid visions of their sinful life.
Enlisting the help of Reverend Angelo Grasso, a seventy-two year-old expert on the history of stigmatic cases, Spencer must uncover the secrets behind this strange stone, or watch his family, career, and possibly his life be destroyed.
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Earley (The Big Secret) offers a confusing blend of religious magic, courtroom drama, political machinations and sexual hijinks in a potboiler that's more readable than believable. Evan Spencer, a Virginia Circuit Court judge, appears to have it all: beautiful wife, wealthy and powerful connections and a safe path to a state supreme court appointment. But a simple white, round stone with mystical powers turns his world upside down. A chain of events results in Spencer suspecting his wife of infidelity, presiding over a sensational murder trial in which a black inner-city youth is accused of raping and killing the 11-year-old daughter of his wealthy patron, and being beset by visions accompanied by increasingly vivid manifestations of stigmata. While Spencer's revelations (triggered by the stone) extract an increasing toll on him, the trial unfolds rapidly. Meanwhile, a priest is hot on the trail of the talisman. Commingling a trial that is by turns engrossing and farcical with the powerful effects of a magical Christian relic on Spencer's personal and professional fate (not to mention his salvation), Earley overloads this entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying thriller.