3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
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 All of the important elements in this genre are present; historical documents, conspiracy, terrorism and a mystery for the ages.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
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like kandscreeley's review? Post a comment saying so!