THE JUDAS TESTAMENT

An explosive Qumran papyrus spirited out of the Thousand Year Reich by its Soviet occupiers surfaces 50 years later as the brass ring in a grandly scaled game of intrigue—and the bane of unassuming Irish linguist Jack Gould's existence. What makes the papyrus—a letter from an Essene leader opposing rapprochement with Rome in the name of Judaic fundamentalism—deadly is its authorship by Jesus, revealed as an orthodox Mosaic zealot rather than as the Messiah. When Jack, responding to an urgent summons from his old friend Iosif Sharanskii in Moscow, agrees to help Iosif smuggle the document out of the country, he finds himself variously pursued by (1) KGB stalwarts, determined to keep their hold on this treasure; (2) the Crux Orientalis, a Catholic group who plan to impeach the document, attributing it to a Zionist conspiracy in order to strengthen their hopes of a new Holy Roman Empire throughout Europe; (3) a covey of right-wing prelates bent on destroying the document in order to preserve the True Church; and (4) an outlaw faction of Catholic priests who want to publish the document to the world. ``Rescued'' repeatedly by allies who turn out to be just as treacherous as the people they're rescuing him from (to the cost of much confusion for both Jack and the reader), Jack eventually finds himself in a Crux Orientalis cross-fire raging around Maria Rosewicz, the woman he loves: on one side, her husband Karl von Freudiger, a Ruhr industrialist who thinks 1945 was just a temporary setback; on the other, her father Stefan, a Stasi survivor planning to groom his grandson for world domination under a new world order. (But don't count the papists out either.) Easterman (Name of the Beast, 1992, etc.) provides an irresistible mÇlange: an attractive (if not overly bright) hero and heroine, international conspiracies, religious paranoia, a corps of double agents whose loyalties can turn on a dime, and an enormous supporting cast, most of whom end up getting executed by each other.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-017768-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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