Reviews for The Diving God:

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):



A moving and perceptive story about a man losing everything and finding a new life in Mexico.

In Brewer’s luminous novel, a vacationing couple in Mexico encounters much more than they expected.

Americans Bob and Kathy take a vacation in Mexico, seeing the sights and cavorting in the clear waters. Bob is an underwriter at Midland Mutual and Casualty Insurance Corporation (where Kathy is a secretary), and they use their time in Mexico as a refuge from the ugliness of Bob’s pending divorce from his wife, Carol. But that outside world interferes anyway when Bob learns that his divorce is going to gut him financially (“it’s the best deal you can possibly get,” he’s told). There’s low-key tension between Bob and Kathy—he constantly urges her to undertake tourist excursions as she tries to hold him back from his adventurous impulses—and as these conflicts grow more pronounced, Bob’s inner world begins to unravel as he starts to feel both desperately hopeless and strangely liberated. The quality of his thoughts changes, going from quotidian to cosmic: “Isn’t everyone a victim in the end, a sacrifice to sate the awful power that suffocates and drowns?” he wonders. “Who could escape it?” With judicious restraint, the author slowly and carefully conveys this personal change in Bob as the party-colored oblivious world continues all around him. Key to his transformation is a 9-year-old boy named Tomcruise Chel Ochoa (his first name is the result of his mother, Dolores, christening him after the actor; his middle name a reference to the Chel people, who are descendants of the Diving God, a figure from ancient Mayan mythology). Tomcruise wants Bob to teach him how to dive, and by steady measures, limned with deep sensitivity by Brewer, the boy draws Bob into his world and opens him to the possibility of a new life, “the chance to be better than he was and, for once, the chance to be of worth to someone – and to himself.” This story of personal reinvention is well crafted and often beautifully written, in the vein of Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene.

A moving and perceptive story about a man losing everything and finding a new life in Mexico.

Our Verdict: GET IT.

Pacific Book Review

Author Brian Ray Brewer’s The Diving God is an emotionally satisfying book centered around a man who almost loses himself after a series of draining relationships. He is confronted with choices but fails to make any work until he meets two ”outcasts” who extend to him a rare form of compassion.

Bob and his girlfriend Kathy are on vacation in Mexico and have been capitalizing on The Willard’s guide during their exploration of various tourist sites and hotels. The two love birds have been living together for several months though they have known each other for years. Kathy wants to settle down with Bob after the vacation but the latter is finding it difficult to move in with due to his constrained financial situation. While wrapping up their visit, the name “Temple of the Diving God” stands out from their guide, and for some reason, Bob is unable to resist a biting itch to explore the place.

Bob cunningly sneaks out of their hotel room early the next morning leaving Kathy fast asleep. He finds his way down to the Temple of the Diving God where he meets a young boy called Tom Cruise. Tom is in earnest expectation to learn how to dive skillfully and Bob is all ready to help him with a few diving lessons. Shortly after, he meets Ann Lau, a Danish woman who is also on vacation. Things move fast between them with both declaring an insatiable longing for each other’s company and love. Things however turn out differently from what Bob expected and he is left lost and broken. Amazingly, the person who can help his life get back on track is not only hated by society but can’t speak English as well.

This is one of the most logical, realistic, and believable tales out there which hits all the romance beats. It will push your emotions to the extreme with its unrelenting twists and turns, as well as its extreme tension and emotional conflict. The story has been told through the main character who surprisingly remains resilient in the face of numerous snags, as well as other well-hewn secondary characters who ably support the plot. The author follows the moral principle that good behavior is rewarded with unconditional love among other lessons which readers will find inspiring, flexible, and unique.

Readers will also love Brian Ray Brewer’s artistic creativity and imagination, his vivid sensory descriptions, and his viewpoint concerning love and life, which he exhibits while bringing out a whole different thought-provoking concept regarding kindness and empathy. The Diving God is a potential award winner and a must-read novel for ultimate escapism after a long day’s work.


Readers Favorite (Five Star Review)

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

Brian Ray Brewer’s The Diving God follows the story of a man who has lost his sense of purpose and begins a journey of self-discovery. Bob is enjoying a seemingly perfect holiday with his girlfriend, Kathy, on the Yucatan coast of Mexico when he discovers that his ex-wife has taken everything from him, and he has nothing left to look forward to in New York. Bob leaves Kathy and ventures off on his own, relishing diving off the cliffs and seeing ancient Mayan ruins. After a brief affair with a young Dutch woman, Bob suddenly finds himself broke and without his passport and other belongings. Meanwhile, he takes a young Mayan boy named Tomcruise under his wing and gives him diving lessons. Additionally, Tomcruise’s mother, Maria Dolores, may be the only one to get his life back on track.

Brian Ray Brewer tells an enthralling slice-of-life tale that will make you laugh, break your heart, and leave you with a smile on your face. The Diving God engages you from the beginning with a compelling protagonist who is very easy to root for. Brewer keeps a steady pace with the plot. There are a couple of surprises, but this is primarily a character-driven narrative. Bob, his journey, and the people he meets along the way are what make this book such a joy to read. There is plenty of humor, drama, and romance to keep you entertained until the end. I really liked the friendship between Bob and Tomcruise. Overall, I very much enjoyed the book, and if you like to read slice-of-stories, this is perfect for you!

The US Review of Books

book review by Mark Heisey

“The Diving God has come to flesh, reborn in the sanctity of storm to a soul who has lost its way among the living.”

Bob Baker is going through a divorce and working at an insurance job where he finds no joy. Needing a break, he and his girlfriend, Karen (another employee at the agency), head to Mexico. Bob enjoys the scenery and the water. He was a competitive diver when he was younger and has always enjoyed being in and around the water. When he realizes things are not going well with Karen, he sneaks out in the night, missing his flight, and heads further away from the tourist area. He saves a young, local boy struggling in the surf and seems to be saved by a young blonde who takes him as his lover. But Bob is drowning, and like many in that predicament, clings too tightly to his rescuer, which leads to her leaving. After a drunken attempt at a cliff dive and a slight thrashing by local police, Bob, naked and without a dime or passport, is taken in by the mother of the young boy he rescued.

Brewer’s novel is a great example of literary fiction. His skill and experience as a writer are on full display, and he deftly weaves together sentences and local mythologies to create a mentally engaging read. He demonstrates clear control over the story and pacing and creates a character at odds with himself and the world, a trait common to the genre. The story is a bit too predictable with a protagonist whose personality is rather flat and primarily defined by the woman currently in his life. However, readers will still undoubtedly relish in Brewer’s excellent prose and enjoy being swept away by a character-driven story that strips off the material trappings of New York for something more meaningful.


Reviews for Bilongo:

The US Review of Books—Recommended Read

book review by Liana Rodriguez

“The portal is bright but grows dim quickly in the distance until the clouds below obscure it.”

After working with his shipmate, Lil, for three years, Rawley is struck by Cupid’s arrow and falls hopelessly in love with her. He chooses to leave his wife, Marina, and their life in Brazil to start a new life with his red-headed siren. But this relationship feels wrong, and Rawley ultimately has to decide which woman he wants to be with.

Brewer’s descriptions of the settings in his novel are incredibly vivid. The opening scene of Marina saying the novena while Rawley and his mistress Lil are in the throws of passion comes across as cinematic. Right away, readers will feel the mystical thread of the book and won’t be able to stop turning the pages. Steamy scenes can be fun to read, but the author goes a step further and captivates the reader through all of their senses. One can almost feel the skin contact and smell the intimacy mixed with the ocean air.

Rawley’s character is the highlight of the book. He seems three-dimensional, and readers can feel his anguish at the hurt he causes the women he loves and sympathize with him. Brewer shows his character’s emotions of lust, shame, and confusion wonderfully. Marina’s strength also shines through her actions. However, because Lil’s character is not as developed, she doesn’t feel as layered as Marina and Rawley.

The plot is character-driven but still moves at a fast pace, a feat not many authors can achieve. Dialogues between the characters and Rawley’s interior thoughts add to the narrative and allow readers to connect to them. Rawley’s journey through his life crisis is thought-provoking, but the mystical connection of his curse could have been fleshed out a little more. Nonetheless, this book is an enthralling read, and romance lovers will likely adore it.


Kirkus Reviews



An entertaining magical-realist tale of a marriage threatened by an infidelity.

Two women fight over a man by slightly supernatural means in this novel about bad relationships.

Brewer’s tale triangulates Rawley Aimes, the first mate on an oil tanker; his wife, Marina, a pulchritudinous architect in Rio de Janeiro; and his lover, Lil, the ship’s cook, a blowsy redhead who holds him in erotic thrall. Marina pines for Rawley while he’s at sea but is beset by visions of him copulating sweatily with Lil and reading erotic poetry to her. When Rawley returns to Rio on shore leave, Marina plies him with food and sex. But Rawley, drunk, dejected, and mesmerized by a vision of Lil undergoing a Santeria ritual, tells the distraught Marina that he wants a divorce. His resolve is complicated yet not deterred when he swims to an isolated beach and meets Sibele, a teenager who reads his fortune from tarot cards and tells him that things probably won’t work out with Lil but that Marina will take him back. Rawley jets off to a vacation with Lil in Costa Rica, and she indeed proves to be a handful. She’s hypersexual but also grumpy, soused, and enraged by the rainy weather. Things seem to improve when the sun returns, but then Rawley abruptly dumps Lil in a scene that plays out in alternating bouts of tearful recrimination, histrionic guilt, and sex. Marina welcomes Rawley back as predicted, but once in Rio, he lapses into his old funk, drinking and dreaming of Lil. When Lil calls, he promises to return to her. At wits’ end, Marina hires a seer who tells fortunes from random Bible verses. The psychic senses a malevolent presence in the apartment and, when Rawley’s reading is unusually morbid, hints that witchcraft may be afoot.

Brewer’s yarn features tense domestic drama, lurid rites, vividly atmospheric writing—“A blood red moon hung heavy in the lower sky above the waves, rheumy and dull, like the eye of a killer”—and some well-wrought action set pieces, like an attempted rescue at sea during a raging storm. (“The lifeboat groaned and popped under the strain and visibly bowed between the two logs, which worked to stove it in. The rescuers watched in horror as blood began to pour from the little man’s nose and mouth and as his determined look turned to resignation.”) The sex scenes can feel overblown—“He entered her with force and thrust with the power of the booming ocean, pulling her hair across her back like the guiding mane of an unbridled horse.” But when the carnal thunder subsides, Brewer’s shrewdly observant prose ably conveys the ways relationships go sour through subtle details of bickering and body language (“Marina leaned across and hugged him to her hard, then kissed him long and passionately. His hands hovered just off her back and patted her softly now and then”). The character studies are sharply etched and realistic—so much so that they make painfully clear why all the players ought to abandon one another. Marina’s clingy oversolicitousness is suffocating; Lil’s volatility and peevishness are exhausting; and Rawley’s diffident refusal to commit—“I don’t know” is his mealy mouthed refrain—is infuriating. Readers may conclude that no amount of sorcery can or should keep any of them together.

An entertaining magical-realist tale of a marriage threatened by an infidelity.

Our Verdict: GET IT.


Readers Favorite (Five Star Review)

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

Bilongo by Brian Ray Brewer is the story of a man in love with two different women. The book opens with Rawley Aimes on a merchant ship, passionately making love to a woman named Lil. However, it turns out Rawley is already married to Marina, with whom he has made a life in Brazil. Still enthralled by Lil, Rawley returns home to say goodbye to Marina and end their marriage. Marina doesn’t take too kindly to Rawley’s indiscretions but finds herself unable to stop him from leaving. Meanwhile, Rawley has a chance encounter with a strange woman on the beach who warns him of heartbreak. He finds his way back to Lil, but things aren’t the same anymore. Can he find redemption? Will Marina ever be able to forgive him?

Bilongo is a tale about heartbreak, forgiveness, and redemption. Brian Ray Brewer uses a gripping narrative with surreal overtones that pulls you into the world of Rawley Aimes as he struggles to navigate life loving two women who have stolen his heart and who couldn’t be more different. Brewer’s prose paints a colorful portrait of Latin American beaches and towns, which makes the setting all the more immersive for the reader. You find yourself hesitant to sympathize with anyone apart from maybe Marina, as all the characters have inherent flaws and vulnerabilities that they struggle to overcome. Whenever Rawley chooses between the two women, he inevitably regrets it afterward and starts feeling guilty about how he treated the other. The ending took me by surprise, but I found it satisfying nonetheless. Recommended to readers who enjoy literary fiction.


Pacific Book Review

Reviewed by: Christina Avina

Two concepts that can be both at war with one another and in concert with one another has always been love and desire. While desire can lead to love, desire can also lead others out of love for someone who fulfills a fantasy for an entirely new desire altogether. For centuries, men and women have left spouses behind and fallen out of love in favor of a more physical and immediate desire, only to face the destruction of a marriage and the loss of stability and happiness.

In author Brian Ray Brewer’s Bilongo, the clash of desire, passion, and love comes full circle for protagonist Rawley Almes. After being away for work on the high seas, Rawley returns home to his wife Marina, only to destroy her world by asking for a divorce. Having fallen in love with a woman he’s known for years but never once looked at romantically, he leaves his brokenhearted wife behind to begin a new life with this woman. Yet not everything is as it seems, as Rawley goes through a personal transformation of betrayal, heartbreak, and possible redemption through a very surrealistic POV.

This is a well-written and emotional take on the erotica genre. The author delivers on both the passion and the emotions which the erotica genre is known for, while delivering powerful character development and an intimate look into how an affair can upend several people’s lives. The juxtaposition of the protagonist’s passionate love affair with the heartbreaking aftermath of both his past marriage and his troublesome new relationship is felt throughout the entirety of this book, as is the inner turmoil of the protagonist as he undergoes this transformation.

A book of this caliber is the perfect read for those who enjoy literary fiction and erotica narratives, especially when that narrative employs relatable characters and an almost magical sense of surrealism which allows the reader not to be part of the narrative, but take a 3rd-party perspective – as if watching the protagonist’s dreamlike state from a hidden camera. The descriptive imagery the author employs in this read and the emotional backbone the narrative has to balance out the more erotic scenes made this a well-rounded read.

A thrilling, emotional, and mesmerizing surrealism erotica novel, author Brian Ray Brewer’s Bilongo is a must-read story. The heartbreak, intense heat, and conflicted nature of the protagonist all draw the reader into this narrative, and the turmoil of the character is something a lot of people will probably be able to relate to, making this story more connective to readers overall.

BookLife Prize

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 8.00 out of 10

Plot: Readers may initially struggle with Brewer’s writing style and its surrealistic forms of narration. However, as the reader acclimates, they become accustomed to the cinematic storytelling, with scenes of sexuality intermingled with religion, death with life, love with hate. It’s fun, it’s sexy, and it’s well done.

Prose: Written with quirks, such as beating drums, hyper-focus on character traits, and palpable descriptions of the environment, the reader becomes readily immersed in the story.

Originality: The idea of a sailor going to sea, cheating on his wife, and then returning home unsure of the road forward is recognizable. However, the unique setting in Brazil, the unusual writing style, and the thrilling surreality of the work allow it to stand out.

Character/Execution: The characters can occasionally feel flat. Lil, the lusty other woman; Rawley, the intrepid and flawed protagonist; and his wife, the desperate to be loved, doting partner. Despite this, they are written well, and their interactions come across as fully authentic.

Date Submitted: June 15, 2022


Reviews for The Face of God

Expand the Table

Brian Ray Brewer. The Face of God

There are times that a book sticks in your mind. After judging The Face of God for The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, I thought of it often. Anguished and inspiring Martin Drake, a conniving, corrupt, drunk, genius of a sculptor raises himself up to begin to create real art again. Pushing him is a strange and inspiring priest, Father Manoel from Brazil, who despises Drake and his art. As the novel progresses, we see that the sculptor and the priest are opposite halves that slowly are revealed to be parts of each. Ironically and irrevocably, they are drawn to each other, inspiring the artist to find passion again in his art and the priest to find purpose in helping the artist regain his faith. The priest thinks, “Perhaps that’s why I am here…Perhaps I’ve been sent to help this man.” And the sculptor thinks, “When he fought against this priest he felt as if he fought against himself.”

This unlikely partnership creates a dynamic tension in the novel, supported by eloquent prose, turbulent inner conflicts in both characters who unite in the mission for Drake to sculpt the face of God. There is great intensity in the characters of Martin Drake and Father Manoel. They have dark aspects to their lives and they are driven by faith, different for each.

Author Brian Ray Brewer commented to me, “I think they were always alter-egos of a sort. I suppose from a Jungian perspective, they both needed to interact with each other to fully integrate, and their interaction is what drives this story.”

There are many parallels to the various partnerships in the novel, from the different artists and individuals who work with Drake, to the relationship of Drake and Father Manoel to the interaction of human and God. These interactions, many intense and angry, drive the novel.

Interacting with the divine is a critical part of this story. Yet this interaction begins before the story, when the author was at a low point in his life, out of work and praying for guidance in a Brazilian Basilica, lined in windows of blue glass. Brian shared, “I knew that I needed something to occupy my time to avoid slipping even further. The story pretty much came to me at once, and it flowed once I started writing it with the characters each defining themselves and leading me forward chapter to chapter. I think I finished the first draft in six to eight weeks. I consider it an inspired work, a gift.”

While Brian is not an artist, he allows us, the reader, to become part of the process of sculpting. His background in engineering gave him an understanding of the complex engineering required in casting large objects in bronze. His fascination with art and the artistic methods helped form the character of Drake. His own emotional state also gave Drake an intensity in this crossroad in both their lives.

In Genesis, we read that man is created in the image of God (b’tselem Elohim, in Hebrew). What is this image? Drake and Father Manoel discuss the topic frequently. Brian continued his explanation of how he came to this unusual subject for his novel also from the Hebrew Bible. “I remembered in Exodus 33:20 was written that the Lord said, ‘You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.’ But in other places, it’s written that Moses converses with God, face to face, like a friend.” While Moses is the only Biblical person to be given this vision, Brian began to conceive of an artist struggling to find if he too could see God face to face and then sculpt this image, as difficult as it might be. He told me that this proved to be life changing for both of these characters.

At the novel’s end, this concept is transformed when Drake sculpts God in the image of man, a prism of light reflecting the Judeo-Christian concept of God and back from man to God. Light and darkness are motifs in the novel, from sculpture to characters to inner convictions.

Brian’s message of struggle, resolution and faith is elegantly conveyed. “I pray that this book can be of value to all who seek God and seek direction….Don’t we all worship the same divine presence? Don’t these spiritual systems share a common Divine root?”

Brian lives on the water in Brazil with his family and thus his portrait of Father Manoel’s Brazilian roots is realistically drawn. For both of them, I have made Pao de Queijo, a Brazilian cheese puff, delicious and extremely popular in that country. Easy to make and their small size make is even easier to eat many! When I suggested this recipe to Brian he commented, “Pao de Queijo would be wonderful. I should have asked Padre Manoel to have given some to Martin when they were together. He would have certainly enjoyed it!


Pacific Book Review

Reviewed by: Lily Amanda

“If one tries to think about history, it seems to me, it is like looking at a range of mountains. The first time you see them, they look one way. As time changes, the pattern of light shifts. Maybe, you have moved slightly or your perspective has changed. The mountains are the same, but they look very different”-Robert Harris. These words resonate so well with the story in this brilliant, compelling book set in the modern times.

“The Face of God” is the story about a man, Martin Drake, a renowned sculptor, working under an avaricious agent, Armine Quadras, who owns a high-end gallery. Martin is a vain and ruthless artist who would do anything for money and together with Armine, make a living through employing skillful deception upon the rich, who often hear ploys.

Harry Banks, on the other hand, is a wealthy industrialist, who wants to give back to Brazil, the country he started his mining production in. Harry intends to fund an orphanage run by Father Manoel da Silva. Harry’s late wife’s love for art leads him to make Drake an attractive offer. He has to sculpt the face of God which will then be sold and the proceeds will be directed to the orphanage in Brazil. There is a tough condition for Drake though. The sculpture must be approved by the Father.

The first encounter between Drake and Father Manuel is unpleasant, to say the least. Will the two work together for the greater good of the orphaned children in Brazil? Will Drake commit to the task and at the same time deal with the emptiness in his life? This is one man’s journey to rediscover himself, find the truth, and unearth the beauty of friendship in the least expected place.

“The Face of God” is certainly a masterpiece. The juxtaposition placed between Father Manoel’s undeterred faith and Drake’s worldliness is well executed. The characters in the book are impeccably developed. The author unquestionably took his time advancing a plot that very easily pulls readers in from the beginning. There is no dull moment in the book. Perhaps my most favorite aspect of the book was the conversations between the characters. They are based on sound doctrine and well-researched history.

I appreciate the work put in by the author to weave this fantastic text together. There are a few instances of mature language used in the book hence suitable for mature audiences. It is a book one cannot read without feeling an emotional connection. I certainly hope there will be part two of the story.

The story lingers on in the reader’s mind long after the reading is done. Fans of contemporary drama will find Brian R. Brewer’s “Face of God” a wonderful read!


Kirkus Reviews



A thoughtful, engaging meditation on the intersection of artistic and spiritual integrity.

Asuccessful but cynical and discontented artist gets a peculiar commission and a shot at moral redemption in this novel.

Martin Drake is a world-renowned artist, celebrated for his work as a sculptor of mostly abstract pieces. As a result of his fame, he leads a life of indulgent prodigality in New York City, one as luxurious as it is obscene and empty. But despite his acclaim, he’s disgusted with his own life and believes himself a fraud who abandoned his artistic principles for commercial accomplishments. At yet another winning exhibition, billionaire Harry Banks offers him a strange proposition. In exchange for a whopping $1 million, Martin must accept a commission to produce a sculpture of the face of God for Father Manoel da Silva Teixeira, a priest who is a “devoted crusader for the underclass” in Brazil. Father Manoel is horrified—he sees Martin’s art as profane trash, a soulless exercise in adolescent sacrilege. As offended as Martin is by Father Manoel’s assessment—one shared by Harry—the sculptor accepts the commission for the sake of the money. Brewer sensitively depicts the opportunity for moral and artistic reform this gives Martin as well as the daunting difficulty of the sculpture itself: “Trying to display all that God was, in one certain form, would be like trying to capture the sea in a teardrop, but infinitely more difficult. The most gifted visionary would fall far short. God was beyond comprehension.”

The author delicately limns Martin’s downward spiral into a life of ignoble dissipation, one marked by extraordinary self-debasement as well as the terrible loss of love. And Father Manoel is presented as much more than “a Bible-thumping Amazonian.” The priest astutely sees, under a surface of artistic debauchery, a deep reserve of genuine potential in Martin’s work: “They were grotesque, and clearly they were manifestations of an angry psyche straining for truth ever-further in the wrong direction. But there was something else to those bronzes: although they were ugly and malformed, they showed something more—a tremendous raw talent.” Still, Brewer’s story is far too condensed—under 250 pages—to have time to develop Martin’s reversal of character, a metamorphosis that is delivered too quickly and is therefore as implausible as his commission. Especially given the depths of Martin’s moral depravity—depths deftly, affectingly described by the author—readers are led to expect a tougher slog toward enlightenment. In addition, Brewer’s writing can mix florid overstatement with shopworn clichés. Consider this depiction of one of Martin’s sculptures: “Etched with the beauty and wisdom of the ages, glowing with a power beyond the realm of understanding, it was he himself that stared back.” Nevertheless, the author provides an intriguing critique of the contemporary art world—subsumed by money and careerism, it conflates the ostentatiously reprobate with edgy creativity. Furthermore, Brewer manages to pull off a difficult trick—he has composed a deeply religious novel that wears its spirituality lightly. While the book revolves around the redemptive powers promised by a submission to God, it avoids tendentious sermonizing.

A thoughtful, engaging meditation on the intersection of artistic and spiritual integrity.

Our verdict: GET IT.


Readers’ Favorite (Five Star Review)

Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers’ Favorite

The Face of God by Brian Ray Brewer is a gripping work of fiction targeted at Christian readers. The narrative revolves around an eclectic cast of characters. The story unfolds at a gala banquet hosted by Armine Quadras, showcasing the controversial contemporary art of Martin Drake. The presence of art critic Peter Bailey and Kimble Gentry, the mayor’s assistant for culture and the arts, adds depth to the narrative. However, it is the unexpected philanthropic gesture of billionaire Harry Banks, who offers to fund Father Manoel da Silva’s charitable initiatives in Brazil, that sets the story in motion. Banks commissions Martin Drake to create a monumental sculpture of the face of God, with Father Manoel overseeing the project. This proposition introduces a tantalizing twist as Martin navigates the challenges of his artistic endeavor and grapples with personal demons.

Brian Ray Brewer crafts a story that delves into the complexities of art, spirituality, and redemption. The book explores themes of art as a reflection of the human condition, the power of redemption, and the complexities of human relationships. Brewer’s vivid descriptions and multifaceted characters make for an engaging and thought-provoking read. While these elements add depth to the story, potential readers should be aware of their presence. In summary, The Face of God is a compelling work of fiction that combines art, spirituality, and personal transformation. Brewer’s skillful storytelling and complex characters make it a thought-provoking read for those willing to explore the darker corners of the human soul while seeking redemption.


The US Review of Books

book review by Mari Carlson

“But there was something else to those bronzes: although they were ugly and malformed, they showed something more—a tremendous raw talent. Only a genius could have sculpted them.”

What does God look like? In this novel, sculptor Martin Drake hasn’t had any reason to wonder until a billionaire commissions him to sculpt the face of God for an orphanage and school in Brazil. A New York artist, Martin has grown cynical over years of wining and dining with rich people who buy the art he conceives but doesn’t make himself. Father Manoel, the priest in charge of the creche in Brazil, helps Martin face the situation he’s made for himself and inspires him to create once again.

Mutual confessions by Martin and Manoel drive the narrative. Secondary characters serve as foils for the main characters’ development. Flippant and deceitful conversations in galleries and fancy dwellings at the beginning of the book set up well the more honest ones to come between Martin and Manoel. Over the work sessions in Martin’s studio, the two men explain their work to one another. Luscious sentences describing Martin’s art mirror the intricate bronze casting process he uses and bring the depictions to life. Manoel’s tragic stories of the Amazon tribes convey Brazil’s political strife poignantly. In addition to these mini-lessons in art and history, the two men brainstorm ideas together. As their trust and respect for one another builds, they reveal their secrets. Filled with depth and heartfelt words, their monologues are admirable and stimulating.

The face of God sculpture has many iterations, as Martin reworks it until he is satisfied. This metaphor for how people change through their work and relationships is convincing. In the end, the sculpture encapsulates Martin’s transformation and posits an intriguing incarnational theology.


Reviews of Copacabana at Midnight

The US Review of Books

book review by Dylan Ward

“Night presses in upon us,
moonless, dark and deep,
like the pressing silent terrors
of a thought-tormented sleep.”

Brewer presents an intriguing compilation of speculative poetry and eleven spellbinding short stories. He explores various topics, both simple and grand, even paying homage to classic poets who inspire his work here. For Brewer, the world is both freeing and imprisoning, and it requires little for him to speak volumes on his equally menacing and awe-inspiring contemplations of it. Many of his pieces conjure up dread and fascination at the mysteries of the earth and our interactions with it. There is a beauty and oddity to his weirdly hypnotic tales, which include witches, demons, strange birds, fearsome orbs, and seductive sirens.

The concise and surreal poetry takes up the first two volumes, which are folkloric and metaphorical. They are often frightening, evoking a wonderment of what lurks in the shadows at night. The poem “Sleep” recalls a terrifying nightmare. “The Sea of Solitude” considers the loneliness among the seas through the lens of a castaway on an unknown island. “Billy the Black” playfully inspects the life of a terrifying pirate through a child’s imagination.

As with his poetry, there’s also an underlying sense of regret and loss that permeates his short stories found in the third volume, where Brewer explores love and heartache, or solitude and obsession. In “Ride to Perdition,” a woman births a wolf in the desert. In “Surviving the Zombie Invasion,” a man navigates heartbreaking cruelty among the living dead. And in the title story, a determined prostitute laments the loss of her child as the pandemic bears down on society. Throughout, Brewer demonstrates a mastery of the short form, filling his collection with uncanny reveries. It’s a captivating read, and Brewer’s writing undoubtedly will linger in the minds of readers long after the last page is turned.


Readers’ Favorite (Five Star Review)

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers’ Favorite

In Copacabana at Midnight: Collected Poems and Stories, Brian Ray Brewer presents his excellent and challenging work in the form of 130 poems and twelve stories of varying lengths. The collection’s title piece is set in Brazil during the pandemic where a lonely man seeks comfort from a prostitute. It’s an evocative piece with stark details from the point of view of a woman who is seeking escape from her desperate existence in the slums of Rio. Brewer’s empathy for both characters emerges from the sordid and realistic details of their encounter in an airport parking lot and marks the author’s brilliance as a storyteller. His poetry is dazzling also, as his homage to Poe, Keats, Blake, and Dickenson might indicate—no greeting card simplicity here. Some poems are short and pithy (like Emily’s), others longer, mostly free verse, mostly iambic, and often cleverly rhymed— a great read for lovers of verse.

When reading any anthology, I look for the author’s writing skill and overall message, but also variety and range. Mr. Brewer’s first poetry section, Cries Primeval (67 pieces) showed me everything I seek in fine art, primarily wisdom and love-of-life mixed with life’s cruel ironies. Wit, also. His short, rhymed Steaming On is about hard, muscled work; The Path Seemed Clear contrasts the certainty of youth with the uncertainty of middle age. Diamonds and You is a moving love poem. The second poetry section, From a Seaman to His Wife gives us not only the various aspects of the sea but nature imagery involving salmon, moon shadows, crocs, and even an isolated land bird trapped aboard. And of course, the stages of emotions being apart from one’s love. All of Mr. Brewer’s work is a wonderful mixture of accessibility and ambiguity, horror and joy, depravity and love. Copacabana at Midnight: Collected Poems and Stories by Brian Ray Brewer will be a delight and an engaging challenge to anyone appreciative of superb literary writing.


Pacific Book Review

Reviewed by: David Allen

The sea has offered up many treasures, not the least of which have been dazzling and forever memorable helpings of legend, lore, language, and myth. Whose childhood has not been lovably freighted with stories of buccaneers, pirates, with the swarthy tales of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Nordhoff?

Poems are dreams. Like dreams, poems compress experience and make it prismatic. Different perspectives yield different worlds. Poems are kaleidoscopes. The poems of Brian Ray Brewer are no exception. Brewer is an adept in the mystical school of language. A single word or phrase of his can simultaneously illumine, darken, and flood his reader with metaphorical intent.

Why is the mariner’s plight so amenable to lyric and song? How is it that generation after generation of readers take Captain Ahab and the roiling of the whale leviathan to heart? Easy: the sea turns men and women into heroes. We are at our gutsy best when thrown back upon our own courage (as writers and survivors) by the tempests and whims of nature.

Brewer, an able poet and storyteller (the book’s last third contains a handful of fascinating recondite stories), was in his time a merchant seaman. He travelled the world, sighting foreign shores, silky snaking strands, tropical climes…and endured many nights and days alone as well. The poems in Copacabana at Midnight resurrect and transform this experience into heady storm-tossed stuff.

The voice informing these verses is wry, intelligent – always a keen commentary on nature and on man’s place in it. Ocean and seafaring are metaphors for life itself. Brewer practices a marvelous syncretism, where sea life and flora dance, drift, and meld into one another. In one story, a woman gives birth to wolves. In others, prostitutes and magic spells and wizened rummies hold court.

Readers will recognize several abiding spirits – beneficent guardian angels – informing these poems: Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Algernon Swinburne, Charles Baudelaire, even William Blake. Brewer actually mentions Poe and Blake in several places. Brewer’s intense experiences of longing and love are rendered with equal measures of pain and panache. These gems, balanced by the book’s story collection, are accessible, contemporary, never abstruse; many rhyme.

Those fond of poetry and fables will cherish this book; those new to poetry will find it a Jacob’s ladder to Parnassus. Readers will heartily welcome the cruise to strange ports of call, from Borneo to Brazil and many points in between.

Kirkus Reviews



A seafaring poetry collection that sails smoothly until some short fiction knocks it off course.

A collection offers a buffet of surf-and-turf poetry with a serving of gothic short stories for dessert.

Three distinct streams cascade through this sizable volume of oceanic writings by mariner-turned-writer Brewer. The first features poetry drawn from the primal hunger of the sea and those on it, painting an eerie vision of loss and longing in the tradition of William Blake and Edgar Allan Poe. In one poem, the dark and exotic ocean swallows up time itself, keeping a sailor from his true love and family while bringing age and exhaustion through the hard work. In another piece, a seaworthy man becomes like the land bird he sees “perched upon the mast,” wondering “what could cause him blunder / out above the open sea / so very far from field or tree / which he seeks now desperately.” Interspersed between these offerings are numbered poems set in a world of high fantasy, brimming with goddesses, witches, mermaids, and sorcerers. The appearance of “The Red Witch” harkens back to maritime themes, invoking the 1948 John Wayne film Wake of the Red Witch. The collection ends on a selection of short stories featuring murderous sock monkeys, violent eroticism, and, most notably, the “Copacabana at Midnight,” which sees an aging sex worker give herself to the sexual goddess Pomba Gira.

Brewer’s poems transition naturally, with shared themes and imagery often feeding from one piece into the next like a tributary into a river. “Our Secret Dale” is a dream of an unrushed time with a faraway love “to taste your pillowed lips sublime.” This is followed by one of the numbered, fantasy-themed works in which passion becomes more sinister and savage: “She’s with me in my dream again. / Her warm touch burns upon my skin.” Imagery like this is used time and again to deftly shift the tone without ever feeling like a non sequitur. The albatross around the neck of this collection is its third section. Though the titular tale and a run-in with a poisonous sea slug make perfect sense, the inclusion of more modern horror and Ralph Ellison=esque SF stories feels like a splash of cold water in the face. A personal essay about the living death of cancer, though moving, also seems out of place among the book’s heavily curated nautical themes.

A seafaring poetry collection that sails smoothly until some short fiction knocks it off course.


Reviews for Emerald Greed

US Review of Books

book review by Joe Kilgore

“He stared down into the peaceful green of the long, hexagonal crystal almost perfect in symmetry. It was a magnificent emerald. “

Adventure abounds in this high-octane thriller set in exotic Brazil. From the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the sweltering jungles of the country’s vast interior, a man and a woman are entangled in a fight for their lives. From the moment they venture to a legendary emerald mine, they are caught in a web of murder and mayhem instigated by despicable villains bent on the pair’s destruction.

Jack is an American gemologist on the hunt for truly exceptional emeralds. His quest leads him into the heart of South America, where he meets Marisa, a Brazilian beauty who is the daughter of the geologist that re-discovered the fabled Borba Mine. Marisa’s goal is to find out what happened to her missing parent. Jack’s is to locate and come away with some of the world’s most fabulous green crystals. Soon, they are both in danger from powerful forces intent on keeping the mine, the gems, and the land itself from any and all interlopers. Marisa is made to endure unspeakable abuse, and Jack is forced to murderous ends to save her. Then a desperate dash for freedom ensues that winds up entangling the highest echelons of government.

Author Brewer is a first-rate storyteller who keeps the action and suspense nonstop. His cinematic descriptions of gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, and more are loaded with energy. His depictions of Brazil’s wildlife and its multi-dimensional environment feel vividly real. From the piranhas to the anacondas, his tale is alive with hair-raising jeopardy and startling derring-do. Readers who thrill to engaging plots with plenty of excitement will likely revel in this pulse-pounder.


Readers’Favorite (Five Star Review)

Reviewed by Frank Mutuma for Readers’ Favorite

Jack was a respected emerald dealer before venturing to Africa, where he lost everything and had to start afresh. His hopes are on his friend Itzhak, who is an emerald dealer in Brazil. Itzhak had immigrated to Brazil from Vienna in the thirties after things had become hostile for the Jewish community. His brother had not been so lucky when he remained. Professor Fontes had dedicated his life to the search for the Borba mine, which most people, including Jack, believed was just a legend, but with what he had shown Itzhak, the legend was possibly true. Jack and Itzhak strike a deal to find the professor and the legendary mine. To find out how things unfold for Jack and the quest to discover the emeralds, get a copy of Emerald Greed by Brian Ray Brewer.

The Emerald Greed by Brian Ray Brewer is wonderfully written and captured my imagination from the first chapter to the last. This page-turner was an endless adventure without me having to leave my couch. Brian vividly captured the events and places expertly. The plot line flows flawlessly, leaving no room for confusion for the reader, and the steady narration contributes to the overall appeal of the book. I loved the twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat and longing for more. The characters were well developed, and the easy-to-understand language used makes the book accessible to all kinds of readers. I cannot wait to read something else by this talented author.


Pacific Book Review

Reviewed by: Christina Avina

Is there any better form of escapism in a book than an action and adventure tale mixed in with just the right amount of romance? For me, probably not. It is one of my favorite book genres and Emerald Greed by Brian Ray Brewer surely does not disappoint my high expectations of a story such as this. Author Brian Ray Brewer manages to weave a tale together full of intrigue and suspense, action galore, and a romance which will leave you breathless. You can also clearly see the author’s perspective of Brazil derived directly from his own experience living there with his wife and daughters on the water in that beautiful country.

In this book, we meet the main character, Jack Tate in Rio de Janeiro. He is working avidly to rebuild his relationships with previous contacts he had before he had left for Africa to work and trade in the “blood diamond” industry. These blood diamonds were fueling the Angolan Civil War, which is how Jack’s time in Africa ended in a Zairian prison. This left him completely broke and desperate to gain back what was lost to him. And so, he heads off into the Brazilian hinterlands looking for the legendary and rare, Borba Mine.

The problem with this grand plan of Jack’s is that the two previous men who went to this Borba Mine, including Joaquim Fontes, the geologist who re-discovered it in the first place, have gone missing. Even so, Jack’s determination leads him to find what he wants so he can rebuild his life, and in turn, his legacy. While on this treacherous path, he begins a romance with none other than Joaquim’s daughter, Marisa. This beautiful woman leads him to the fabled mine which is where their journey truly begins.

In this book, you will find yourself enthralled by the author’s storytelling ability and the way he creates characters which don’t just further the story along, but genuinely add to it with their detailed and unique character traits. The tale itself is exciting and action-packed, with a heart-pounding adventure being the center of this story. You will worry for Jack and his ultimate fate while rooting for his and Marisa’s budding romance. The suspenseful nature of different aspects of this story only adds to an already perfect formula this author has created. You won’t want to put this one down, so pick up your copy of Emerald Greed by Brian Ray Brewer today!

Kirkus Reviews



An often engaging novel that’s undermined by its turn toward grandiose political machinations.

An American gemologist searches for a legendary emerald mine in the wetlands of Brazil and gets drawn into a vast political conspiracy in Brewer’s thriller set in the early 1990s.

Jake Tate spent years selling contraband diamonds in Angola, a dangerous but lucrative trade, but then disaster struck—the country erupted into civil war, and he was forced to flee over the border into Zaire. There, he was arrested and imprisoned and lost most of the diamonds he was transporting. He’s free now, but he can’t afford to ignore the possibility of a big score. While trying to buy emeralds in Brazil from old friend and jeweler Itzhak Blum, Jake learns that Itzhak’s impressive emerald collection comes from the Borba mine, nestled deep in the Brazilian jungle in the remote locale of Pantanal. Itzhak’s source of information, professor Joaquim Fontes, has vanished, but he offers Jake the man’s address in exchange for a piece of the action if Jake tracks down the mine. However, when Jake arrives at the professor’s home, he finds the man’s wife, Isabella, in despair—she’s convinced her husband has been murdered, and his map to the mine has been stolen. Jake believes it was likely pilfered by Heiner Klimt, a German rival who’s bested Jake for years. However, Brewer has an adventurous inclination toward the implausible, so he makes sure that Jake has a chance encounter with Marisa Fontes, Joaquim’s daughter. She’s not only sure her father is alive, but also just happens to have memorized the stolen map. There remains one major problem—the land where the mine is located is owned by Sen. Alfonso Fonseca, a candidate for the Brazilian presidency.

The first half of this relatively short novel—barely more than 200 pages—is a gripping tale of underworld crime and desperate aspiration; Jake is effectively shown to be willing to risk everything for his big shot at real wealth. His dream is a shallow, materialistic one, but its conflict with Marisa’s emotional longing to find her father seems to open him up to the possibility of new and redemptive depth, which Brewer artfully and sensitively depicts in these pages. Also, the author vividly describes the formidable wetlands of the Brazilian interior, getting across its compelling combination of lush beauty and peril. Indeed, for the most part, this is a torridly paced thriller overflowing with sharply described action. However, the more the plot pivots to a political conspiracy involving Sen. Fonseca and the world of illicit drug trafficking, the more fantastical and unbelievable it becomes. Moreover, the picture of Brazil’s corrupt political scene lacks nuance and reduces it to a bland version of oligarchic corruption: “Only an idiot would vote for the bastard or anybody else in his coalition if they bothered to follow their legislative voting record, but nobody does. Politics don’t work that way here….Elections are won with free T-shirts, free beer, dances, and lots and lots of money.”

An often engaging novel that’s undermined by its turn toward grandiose political machinations.

Our Verdict: GET IT.