The latest book in Lankford’s (The Sacred Impostor, 2012, etc.) series about the adventures of a clone of Jesus of Nazareth.
At the beginning of this latest installment, Maggie Duffy Morelli is in Switzerland’s crowded Lugano marketplace when she encounters her 18-year-old son, Jess, who greets her with a glowing smile. She faints, and for a very good reason: Eight years before, she’d watched him die in her arms. When he revives her and they start talking, she’s not entirely surprised, because in this series, Jess is a biological clone of Jesus, grown from cell samples taken from the Shroud of Turin by a scientist named Felix Rossi. Like the Jesus of the Gospels, Jess has returned from the dead—albeit less promptly, taking eight years instead of three days. He surprises Maggie by quoting not only the New Testament but also the holy books of Hinduism, Islam and other creeds, telling her that “Truth is written everywhere.” Like his historical counterpart, he has a mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the world’s potential believers, and that quest, in a complicated but extremely well-orchestrated plot, brings him to the small East African village of Udugu. As Lankford weaves her various subplots together, many other characters converge on Udugu for their own different and often mercenary reasons, including Wall Street hotshot Zach Dunlop and his abrasive wife, Zenia (who steals many scenes), conflicted pastor Paul Joseph, and Rossi and his family. At the heart of the book’s climax is Jess himself, exuding compassion (“All life’s troubles lay in their fears and they did not see”) while trying to save a very corrupt world. Readers unfamiliar with the series’ previous books will find a great many things unexplained here, but the action and sexual tension—often centering on Zenia—will nonetheless keep them entertained.
An engaging, tense installment in this ongoing series.