A captivating and intelligent theological tale deftly composed.



A debut religious thriller follows the consequences of the unearthing of an ancient Mayan codex. 

Father Colvin McNeery is an archaeologist and infamously unconventional priest. He’s made a name for himself presenting a heterodox interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew that suggests its author was not a contemporary of Jesus—McNeery claims the star of Bethlehem is Halley’s comet, indicative of a new dating. In search of some astronomical confirmation of his theory, he leads an archaeological dig near Valladolid, Yucatán, in hopes of finding a Mayan record. Mayans were obsessed with the scrutiny and analysis of the stars. His teenage assistant, Humberto Perez, finds a Mayan codex at least 1,500 years old that contains historically transformative information. But shortly after, McNeery is found dead—and the codex is missing—which makes Humberto the prime suspect. Allan slowly unravels a deliciously entangled skein that proposes a shocking possibility—the codex implies that one of two articles of prevailing wisdom is incorrect: the historic discovery of America by Columbus or the timeline regarding the birth of Christianity. Dr. Isabel Reyes, who performs an autopsy on McNeery, strongly suspects he was murdered. She joins forces with Simon Press, a former rabbi and a friend of the priest’s, intent on finding out what McNeery discovered. To make matters even more perilous (and complicated), Miguel Felicio Catalán, also known as El Gato, and León Cortés, descendant of the famous conquistador, two powerful drug lords, have their own interest in the codex. The author constructs a plot not only tantalizingly suspenseful, but also religiously provocative, raising thoughtful questions about the claims of foundational Scriptures in authoritative dogma. In one way or another, all three of the main characters—McNeery, Press, and Reyes—must confront the distance between rational findings and spiritual beliefs. In addition, Allan artfully traces the historical lineage of the suppression of truth—that Mayan codex was brutally concealed in 1562 by a Franciscan monk. This is a wonderful brew of genres—murder mystery and irreverent religious thriller—that is sure to titillate readers in search of both literary action and philosophical stimulation. 

A captivating and intelligent theological tale deftly composed.

Pub Date: May 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-13196-1

Page Count: 365

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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