Author: Eric Van Lustbader
The next time you are at a major tourist destination, especially any major European city, take a moment to look around and ask yourself: Which one of my fellow sightseers is actually a spy? Or, if not a spy, then perhaps an agent of some other type of covert organization on the trail of some important information or artifact? Chances are, none of them will be, but then how would you know? Maybe look for the guy running.
In The Testament, Braverman Shaw, or Bravo for short, has flown home from Paris to be with his father and sister during the Fourth of July weekend. Bravo is reluctant to come home because his father, Dexter Shaw, is disappointed that his son has left the academic world of Medieval Religious studies for a job with an international financial consulting firm run by Bravo’s best friend, Jordan. But Dexter is determined; he has a secret that he needs to tell Bravo, and an offer to go along with it.
During their tense reunion, Dexter is unable to make Bravo listen, and before he has another chance to talk with his son, he is killed in an explosion. That same event puts Bravo in the hospital and leaves his sister temporarily blind. As Bravo recovers, and works on settling his late father’s affairs, he realizes that there are things he never knew about his father. Soon he’s following a cipher trail, left by his father, in an attempt to discover those secrets.
What he finds is a mysterious world hidden beneath the surface of the world’s major religions. This world, though mostly secular now, is riddled with conflict over a cache of secrets that includes a lost Testament, purportedly written by Jesus Christ.
As Bravo searches for the cache of secrets, dodging enemies intent on destroying him and finding allies that can help him; he finds not only himself, the man who his father trained him to be, but the man who his father was in life. In the end, when the cache is near, he also finds out who he can really trust, and who has been deceiving him all along.
The Testament dashes through major American and European cities in a run-and-fall pace that, at times dizzying, keeps you guessing, and second guessing Bravo’s fate. Van Lustbader’s urgent pose evokes the sense that his characters live in a world suspended between earth and the angelic realm, that they are largely unaffected by the normal day-to-day functioning’s of this world. Through this surrealism he does a great job of keeping his protagonist on the move, and the reader questioning the motives of everyone Bravo encounters.
The dramatics unfold against the backdrop of a long-standing historical dispute, the roots of which Van Lustbader artfully weaves betwixt the plot and the action, giving this work a certain weight of scholarly achievement.
At times, he relies too heavily on his characters amazing abilities. Bravo has a “remarkable” memory, and his father was endowed with a prescience that bordered on the prophetic. These two things, in spite of everything else being against Bravo, often work to his advantage, and as his salvation. These instances can neuter the believability of the story.
The Testament is an exhaustive but enjoyable chronicle of Bravo’s plight from city to city as he tries to unlock the secrets that his father lived and died for. In the process he discovers himself, and allows us to discover an ancient world and an ancient conflict which may actually exist beneath our normal perceptions. If you want to glimpse that world, you can either read this book, or miss the sights while you’re looking for the guy running.
The above review was contributed by: Christopher Friesen-Writer and Book Reviewer from Canada. To read more of Chris's reviews CLICK HERE