The Painted Messiah

Craig Smith's The painted Messiah is a fun adventure story. Often reading like a film script, I would imagine that the author probably hoped that a cinematic option might be taken out on the book. To be honest, it wouldn't make a bad adventure film either. The novel opens with a daring heist operation in Switzerland, when a painting with a mysterious past is daringly stolen from the equally mysterious and extremely nasty villain of the piece, Julian Corbeau. Here we trespass into Dan Brown realms, as the stolen painting is purportedly a portrait from life of Jesus, commissioned by Pontius Pilate himself, while Corbeau is the head of a mysterious Templar like cult with an enthusiasm for black magic. An ex-CIA operative is pulled into the adventure when an American tele-evangelist with links to the President also wants to get his paws on the painting. With the body count rising, can Thomas Malloy do the right thing by the picture and by the heisters, who turn out to be good guys disguised as bad guys.

This is a surprisingly intelligent and readable tale mixing the mythology that grows up around any religion, with a good dose of Indiana Jones and The Italian Job adventure. There are some intriguing things to be learned about the early days of Christianity and the equally early legends attaching to it, and Smith is great at making first century Palestine with its decadence and thirst for a better world come to life. The novel also adroitly blends a classic adventure tale with a more supernatural edge without straying too far into the realms of the daft. A really fun quick read.


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