A debut thriller by a former NSA intelligence analyst, speculating on what would happen if the Second Coming of Christ were produced by cloning.
Harold Goodman thinks he can create God. A biochemist and atheist, Goodman became involved in a 1980s project to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin through DNA and Carbon-14 dating. Although he took the assignment convinced that the shroud was a fake, he discovered that it was, in fact, 2,000 years old—and, even more astonishing, that it contained live skin cells. Goodman now clones the cells and, with the help of a surrogate mother, gives birth to Christ’s genetic twin. He names the boy Christopher and passes him off as his orphaned nephew. But a handful of insiders know the real story, among them Goodman’s ex-student Decker Hawthorne (a journalist who covered the shroud investigation) and Israeli physicist Joshua Rosen (a “Messianic Jew” who accepts the divinity of Christ). The overriding question: Is Christopher the Son of God or not? We’re not saying, but we can tell you that he has nightmares of being crucified and seems to possess powers he can’t account for. Plus, his coming into the world coincides with a series of disasters (“war and rumors of wars”), including a strange plague that brings the instantaneous and unexplained death (in one day) of nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Then, almost as an afterthought, full-scale war erupts in the Middle East: The Arabs advance on Israel, and Russian forces occupy the entire region. The UN is called in, and Christopher, through the political connections of Decker Hawthorne, becomes involved in the negotiations. Will he be able to avert Armageddon? That may depend on whether Christ prefers to play the role of Prince of Peace—or Lion of Judah.
Silly, cheap, and fun: a garden-variety potboiler with a neat gimmick thrown in. (N.B.: The first of a trilogy, In His Image <\b>was originally self-published on Amazon.com, where it sold, Warner tells us, over 10,000 copies.)