Another over-the-top but oddly effective adventure from Podrug (Presumed Guilty, 1997, etc.), this one sending a motley band back in time to stop two terrorists from killing Christ.
In Marseilles, prostitute Marie Gauthier is kidnapped by special agents and flown on Air Force One to a top-secret laboratory in New Mexico, where scientists are working on a “synchrotron” (a.k.a., time machine). Also hustled to the lab under duress are David Ben-Dor, an imprisoned Israeli engineer, and John Conway, a CIA operative turned actor. Why are they there? Because the Zayyad brothers, nominally Islamic fundamentalists but basically just homicidal maniacs with a grudge, recently shot their way into the lab and headed for the time of Christ, bringing at least one gun along and apparently aiming to bump off the Son of God. For convoluted and improbable reasons, Marie, David, John, and a young shepherd named Isaiah (accidentally plucked by the synchrotron from biblical times) are declared the perfect team to stop the Zayyads. Once back in a.d. 30, the group tries to blend into a landscape of unbelievable harshness, cruelty, and fanaticism. Not one to flinch on details or turn an eye away from the gruesome or sensuous, the author throws depraved Cleopatra-wannabe Salome into the mix, along with Zealots, Sicarii (fanatical assassins at war with the Romans and the Zealots), and an obese Roman slave trader specializing in debauchery. As ridiculous as it all is, Podrug somehow manages to take this kitchen-sink approach and make it work . . . most of the time. He delights almost as much in describing the hideous punishments meted out by Salome and the Romans as they apparently did in thinking them up, and the copious sexual material hovers between the salacious and juvenile.
Readers’ heads may spin trying to follow the plots, counterplots, and back stories, but there’s little chance they’ll stop reading before the whole bloody mess comes to an end.