Official Review: The Last Messenger by Jonathan Mark

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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kandscreeley
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Official Review: The Last Messenger by Jonathan Mark

Post by kandscreeley » 15 Dec 2017, 09:31

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Last Messenger" by Jonathan Mark.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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A historical conspiracy thriller, The Last Messenger will leave you breathless with wonder at the mysteries revealed. All of the important elements in this genre are present; historical documents, conspiracy, terrorism and a mystery for the ages. At just under 500 pages, you might want to save this one for a long weekend. Once you start... you won't want to stop.

Richard Helford works for the SIS in London. His absentee father was purported to be killed in the 9/11 attack on New York. During a terrorist attack on the London subway, Richard (being in the wrong place at the wrong time) tries to help someone injured in the blast. Masood dies in his arms, but not before giving him a family heirloom to take to his wife. Masood seems to know him, but Richard doesn't recognize Masood. Unfortunately, this is not the first close call Richard has had with death. It makes him wonder if there is a bigger picture he is missing. He starts asking if his father is alive after all. If he is, why did he go underground? Do these attacks on Richard have something to do with his father?

In Crete, Greece in the year 1941, the Germans have invaded. The Cretans are determined to drive them back, but one of the women in the village meets a young German soldier who seems to be sympathetic to them. As the Germans bomb their church, he insists that she rescue the icons and hide them. The woman from the village, Callidora, feels that she can trust him. She, therefore, tells him about a scroll that she discovered when the church was bombed. This scroll could change everything. How do these two story lines connect? What exactly is written in the scroll and why is it so important?

Let me first start by saying that there is controversial content in this book. I can't go into details without giving too much away, but the contents of the scroll would impact many major world religions. While this is fiction, I know that there are some who would be turned off by this. I myself would not have chosen this story had I known what the scroll would reveal. I would caution those who are religious (in any manner) that this may be a book that you'll want to stay away from. While I disagree with the author's take on this scroll, I endeavor to remain unbiased for review purposes.

Right from the beginning the author enthralls us with mystery. There are clues that we must piece together to unveil the whole picture. It's not that simple, though, as there are twists and turns aplenty. Just when you think you have something figured out, the author spins things on their head, leaving you floundering again. In this way, the book has a wide appeal as those who enjoy a good intrigue would enjoy this book, whereas they might not be interested in traditional thrillers.

I enjoyed the way that the author included flashbacks from 1941. These flashbacks were probably my favorite part of the story, and he ties it in well to what is going on in the present. The transitions are seamless while providing necessary background information for the reader to understand the present happenings. I thought it was brilliant; in some ways, these sections could stand alone.

I will say that, at the beginning, there were a good many characters to keep track of. The author does well at not introducing too many at one time; however, at the start, I was still a little bit lost. The further you get into the plot, though, the more the characters become clear. Each character has his or her own role to play in this drama, and every character is well fleshed out.

While the characters were quite believable, there was a little floundering on the part of the main character, Richard. He isn't quite consistent in how he feels about his father. His father was never present when he was growing up. Sometimes this causes him to be mad at his father, but other times he seems overly protective of his memory. I realize that relationships with parents are complicated, but he seemed to be too wishy-washy for a character that is quite strong in all other areas.

Overall, I rate The Last Messenger a 3 out of 4 stars. Jonathan Mark very obviously has talent as a writer, and this book is the proof. However, I believe this book could be divisive with its content. That along with the small inconsistencies in the characters led me to deduct one star. I would absolutely recommend this book to those that enjoy a good religious conspiracy theory novel. Be prepared, though. This is the first in a series. As such, not everything is wrapped up in a nice, neat bundle. While not a cliffhanger, there are some loose ends left to be discussed in the subsequent novels. You might lose a little sleep over this one!

******
The Last Messenger
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Post by kislany » 16 Dec 2017, 11:15

Two things make me really want to read this novel. I love thrillers (on my personal blog I actually review mysteries and thrillers only), and it seems that part of the action takes place in Greece. I live close to Greece and I've visited the country at least 10 times so far. I've even visited Crete once, it was beautiful with a rich WWII history. So this book seems like it's made for me :) Great review, kandscreeley.

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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Dec 2017, 11:16

kislany- It does sound like this is a book you would enjoy. It's very well done for its genre, and much of it does take place in Greece. I hope you find it wonderful!
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 16 Dec 2017, 13:18

Wow this is big! Only way for me to describe this book is a"bag of goodies".
Thank you for the explicit details!
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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Dec 2017, 15:49

Thanks sahani. That's probably a good way to describe it.
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Post by CatInTheHat » 16 Dec 2017, 16:02

This storyline sounds interesting. I love the overall concept of how history impacts the future, as it does in real life as well.
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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Dec 2017, 16:02

Thanks catinthehat! It's a great story. Really keeps you coming back to it.
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Post by hrwheeler » 16 Dec 2017, 17:43

I love these kinds of books, I'm wondering though if the information on scroll disappoints would I have been better off reading another book?

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Post by bookowlie » 16 Dec 2017, 18:50

Another great review! I like historical fiction and the story sounds interesting. The only thing that I am not wild about is the alternating plotlines in two different countries and time periods. I sometimes get confused when a book jumps between time periods and plots. Anyway, glad you enjoyed the book!
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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Dec 2017, 18:58

Thanks bookowlie. It can be kind of confusing, but I think the author does a good job. You should try it out.
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Post by Kalin Adi » 17 Dec 2017, 23:55

I like mysteries, but I do not think this book is for me. I didn't like The Da Vinci Code and I have the feeling this book is similar. I'm glad you found enjoyment reading it, though. Thanks for the review, Kandscreeley!

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Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 18 Dec 2017, 06:57

This reminds me of the 'Da Vinci Code' book. I dislike that book and I don't think I will read this book. Thanks for this in-depth review.
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Post by MarisaRose » 18 Dec 2017, 07:00

I considered reading this book for review, and I almost wish I had! It sounds like there was a lot to like about the book, for the most part. But the character inconsistencies may have threw me off a bit. Thanks for the great review, as always :)
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Post by kandscreeley » 18 Dec 2017, 09:06

Kalin Adi wrote:
17 Dec 2017, 23:55
I like mysteries, but I do not think this book is for me. I didn't like The Da Vinci Code and I have the feeling this book is similar. I'm glad you found enjoyment reading it, though. Thanks for the review, Kandscreeley!
You are right about The Da Vinci Code. I don't like comparing, but it does have similarities. Thanks for commenting.
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Post by kandscreeley » 18 Dec 2017, 09:06

ParadoxicalWoman wrote:
18 Dec 2017, 06:57
This reminds me of the 'Da Vinci Code' book. I dislike that book and I don't think I will read this book. Thanks for this in-depth review.
Yep. It's similar. If you didn't like that one, then you won't like this probably. Thanks!
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