Review: In Eric Van Lustbader's latest thriller, The Testament, scholar Braverman "Bravo" Shaw is on a personal journey to seek out a cache of secrets following clues left to him by his late father. This cache includes the mysterious substance quintessence (the fifth classical element after earth, fire, water, and air) which may have been used to resurrect Jesus after his crucifixion, and a testament, a long hidden and suppressed gospel purportedly written by Jesus after his "death". Public knowledge of the contents of the cache could be catastrophic to modern Christianity, and with several factions using whatever means necessary to locate it, it is essential that Bravo find it first.
If all this sounds familiar, it should. Millions of copies of a similarly plotted book have been sold, and that same book was made into a movie seen by millions more. It's something of a mystery why an author of Lustbader's caliber needed to write such a derivative work.
There are some redeeming qualities in The Testament. First, and most importantly, the book is well written. Characters are expressive and appropriately developed for a stand-alone thriller, locales (of which there are many) are realistically depicted, and the action is relentless. Second, the story is well plotted, if familiar. And in a nice, personal touch, Bravo's father lives on in his memory, and throughout the story, with italicized comments that are relevant to the situation at hand.
It's hard not to enjoy a book by Lustbader, and in the end, The Testament is no exception. But it is still disappointing that the story was so conventional.
Acknowledgment: Book Report Network provided a copy of The Testament for this review.
Review Copyright © 2006 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Forge (Hardcover), August 2008
ISBN-13: 9780765321701; ISBN-10: 076532170X
Location(s) referenced in The Testament: New York City, Washington DC, Paris, France, Venice, Italy
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The Testament by Eric Van Lustbader
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $24.95