Reviewer Sandra Shwayder Sanchez: Sandra is
a retired attorney and co-founder of a small non-profit publishing
collective: The Wessex Collective with whom she has published two short fiction collections
(A Mile in These Shoes and Three Novellas) and one
Her most recent novel, The Secret of A Long Journey is soon to be released by Floricanto Press in April 2012 and her first novel, The Nun, originally published by Plain View Press in 1992 is being reissued in a 2nd Edition with additional material by PVP in March 2012.
Author: Osman Kartal
Author: Osman Kartal
After reading this author’s earlier work The Prophet’s Scribe (recently reviewed for bookpleasures), I was most eager to read this new novel. In a style that combines erudition with an easy wit, The Jesus Gospel follows a young man, a student at a University in England with a traumatic family history, on a dangerous scavenger hunt where every clue leads to a murder. The tale is told by the engaging protagonist, Frankie Karter aka Frank Kartevelli alias Ammon Moustaki in an ironic tone of voice at a fast clip:
“Now I know of course. I was over confident. Apprehensive, but not afraid. You can lose your life that way. You can lose other people’s lives too, even more easily.
But I want to be fair to myself. I was young,; I was new at this double dealing spycraft stuff. And given what I knew then, my confidence seemed appropriate. My cover was solid. Apart from the passport, it wasn’t even a fabrication. I really was visiting my dying grandmother. I really was an academic, a scholar of the Soviet struggle. I really did have research interests in the archives of the University of Tbilisi. No reason to worry.” And so the story begins.
At a Nestorian Monastery in Russia, Frankie’s grandmother Irena tells him a story, made up of equal parts intriguing lies and shocking truths and she gives him the key he will need to find and protect the ancient parchment that contains the words written by Jesus himself. The book leaves the reader with the question articulated on the back cover:
“Imagine if the Gospel of Jesus was actually written by none other than Jesus himself? Could the revelation of that fundamental truth upend the world as we know it?”
Apparently Popes and Emperors thought so, apparently secular governments around the world thought so. Throughout the novel, Frankie is followed, threatened and nearly killed by secret agents from various countries as he wends his way from clue to clue until in the end he finally obtains the parchment and begins to read. What does he discover? Well that will have to be another book.
“There was no one else here. Just me, and the Gospel of Christ. I opened the parchment and began to read, fast. I needed to absorb, totally digest, and quick. Rivers, the next Bogdan, the Russians, a Lucia pop-up weren’t going to give me much time.”
And so the stage is set for the next act, another book I’ll be eager to read.