ON THE THIRD DAY by Piers Paul Read

ON THE THIRD DAY

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An engrossing mystery concerning the appearance of the skeleton of a crucified man in Jerusalem. Despite a burden of exposition, Read (A Season in the West, 1989, etc. etc.) adroitly works out his premises and explores their theological implications. Andrew Nash, a Simonite monk, is a young archaeologist. His mentor, John Lambert, a professor of biblical archaeology, is found dead, possibly a suicide. Shortly thereafter, Andrew and his colleagues come upon a crucified skeleton, supposedly Christ's, and posit that Lambert killed himself when his faith was destroyed. The portagonists are close-knit: Michael Dagan is the Israel archaeologist who originally finds the skeleton; Anna, Michael's daughter, helps Andrew look for evidence, and eventually becomes the monk's lover; and Henry, Andrew's brother, is also Anna's lover (before she leaves him for Andrew). Once the soap opera is in place, Read skillfully turns the novel into a religious and political mystery. Was Lambert murdered? Is the skeleton a hoax? Was it planted by the Jews, or by liberal theologians, or by the KGB, or--possibly--by the Romans, who wanted to promote Christianity because it was ``not of this world''? Despite some long-winded erudite conversations, Read strings the plot along and keeps up the suspense until we discover the perpetrator of the hoax: a fanatic Israeli colonel who wants both to short-circuit 20 centuries of Christian-tainted history and to assure continued support for Israel. Michael Dagan, forced to face his own guilt, destroys the skeleton; Henry Nash, an atheist, finds faith; and Andrew decides to leave the order and marry Anna, his true love. Read's 11th novel--an enthralling read--touches upon a number of current theological controversies without losing its tightly plotted tension.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-679-40089-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991




MORE BY PIERS PAUL READ

NonfictionTHE DREYFUS AFFAIR by Piers Paul Read
by Piers Paul Read
NonfictionALEC GUINNESS by Piers Paul Read
by Piers Paul Read
FictionALICE IN EXILE by Piers Paul Read
by Piers Paul Read