4 out of 4 stars
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The Covert Messiah by J R Lankford is the fourth installment in The Jesus Thief series. The series focuses on Jess, a clone of Jesus Christ, who died previously in the series. That is, until Maggie Johnson, the woman who carried Jess, finds him alive and well while at the market one day. The rest of the novel focuses on various characters as they all head to Udugu, a village in Tanzania, and ultimately to Jess, for one reason or another. Ariel, a teenage girl who recently discovered she was pregnant, a pastor, his mistress, and Ahmad, a business man with ulterior motives will all come face to face with Jess. The burning question is, what is the reason for Jess’ sudden reappearance?
The author masterfully blends the characters’ stories, linking them all together as they meet in Udugu at the end. For the most part, each character had their positive and negative traits, making them come across as flawed and ultimately human. The blend of very different characters and very different cultures helped to maintain the reader’s interest. Although it was difficult to connect with some of the characters due to their financial statuses, they were fun to read about. On the other hand, the immersion into African culture felt authentic, and the author adequately explained foreign terms to avoid confusion.
However, there were certain plot points that were glossed over and resolved too easily. Most notably, Ariel’s pregnancy is given a lot of attention as it is her main storyline. Yet, her friend group and the events that resulted in the unexpected pregnancy are never explored. Further, this plot arc was tied up too conveniently and lessened the seriousness of Ariel’s predicament. Lastly, the way Ariel is written, the closure she is provided does not seem like it would satisfy her curiosity the way it did in the novel.
Although this is the fourth book in a series, the author provided enough backstory and clues about previous installments, so the story was easy to follow. It never felt like additional backstory was necessary to understand the current events taking place. While reading through The Covert Messiah, I was tempted to go back and read some of the previous stories, just to know more about how all of these events started. That being said, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to those who have not read any of the other installments in the series.
Clearly, the story told in The Covert Messiah requires a significant suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Readers of thrillers who don’t mind a farfetched plot will find this story engrossing and enjoy reading about the distinct cast of characters. Although there were some aspects of this story I found hard to wrap my head around, The Covert Messiah proved to be a fun, engaging read, leading me to rate it 4 out of 4 stars.
The Covert Messiah
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