I really liked this novel. It is full of action and is loaded with information.
The plot centers around an ancient jar Thib Lejeune uncovered during WW II in northern Africa. In the present day, Thib is murdered by someone trying to steal the jar he has kept on his mantel for years. When ancient language expert Dr. Cloe Lejeune receives word of her estranged father's death, she and her son travel back to Louisiana. There they find out the jar is inscribed with words indicating Judas Iscariot. Cleo is joined by a mysterious monsignor from the Vatican as the jar is brought to LSU where specialists open it.
Before the contents can be evaluated, someone attempts to kill Cloe and her son. The action heightens as it appears someone wants the jar and its contents at all costs.
I was a little worried about the book at first as I don't like books that undermine the Bible. As the author notes in an Afterward, there is an actual Coptic version of The Gospel of Judas. The author surmised an earlier version and created this novel. But I was happily surprised to find out when I finished the book that the orthodoxy of the gospels we have in the Bible need not be questioned.
I liked the vast amount of information in this book about manuscripts and how they are investigated. I also appreciated the conversations about the orthodox gospels and how they differ in some places. There is also discussion about what the Judas Gospel might contain. I didn't realize that Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee. It was interesting to speculate, along with the novel's characters, what the relationship might have been between Jesus and Judas. We learn quite a bit about the Gnostics too.
The writing was pretty good and the characters developed pretty well.
We are left not knowing what the manuscript in the jar actually says. That will be in the sequel, I am sure. I look forward to reading it.
Van R. Mayhall Jr. is the senior partner in a Baton Rouge law firm. He and his wife have three grown children and enjoy boating on Lake Pontchartrain.
iUniverse, 330 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through NetGalley for the purpose of an independent and honest review.