Can a heart-thumping suspense thriller revolve around the life of Jesus Christ? Seepe’s debut novel does just that—at least for the first half.
Seepe posits that there was more than religion at stake in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: Powerful forces planned it for their own gain. In first-century Judea, a cesspool of personalities keep the power they have by sacrificing an itinerant preacher. For them, it’s all about power; but not for Jesus. He wants a revolution, but his revolt is one of heart and mind. Jesus’ first-person account of his human life alternates with the third-person narration of Roman and Judean authorities who will stop at nothing to maintain their influence. Power-hungry Sejanus needs Judean governor Pontius Pilate to start a revolt in order to usurp caesar’s authority, while the controlling Sanhedrin, the local judicial branch, plots to maintain its fragile co-existence with the Romans as a means of self-preservation. Jesus, the Sanhedrin and the Romans want to disrupt the status quo but for very different reasons. The first part of the book takes the reader for a powerful ride, while the familiarity of the story and recognizable characters add to the intrigue. Seepe, a historian, weaves details of first-century society into the suspense, which builds tension and lends authenticity to the plot. Jesus’ first-person account amounts to an exceptional portrait of his developing comprehension of his own divinity, along with his struggles to reconcile his human nature. The best writing in the book recounts Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, a mesmerizing and memorable scene. The story levels off, though, halfway through, and the story seems to rush to the end. Narrative leaps take the story to its climax, creating plot gaps that disturb the tension. The impressive writing style from the beginning seems to taper off, too, and a jarring first-person-narration change goes from Jesus to James, even though the transition isn’t particularly smooth.
An intriguing premise with some excellent writing, but the first half far outweighs the second.