Goodreads Synopsis: William Barrow carries a dark secret. A very dark secret.
An archivist for the Smithsonian Institute and also a part-time operative for the CIA, no one would ever suspect the handsome ‘thirty-ish’ William is in fact the most reviled human being to ever walk the earth. His infectious warmth and sense of humor make such an assertion especially hard to believe.
But long ago, William Barrow had another name…one that is synonymous with shame and betrayal: Judas Iscariot.
Forced to walk the earth as a cursed immortal, William/Judas is on a quest to reclaim the thirty silver shekels paid to him in exchange for Jesus Christ. Twenty-one coins have now been recovered—thanks in large part to the help from his latest son, the esteemed Georgetown University history professor, Alistair Barrow.
Ever hopeful the complete coin collection will buy him a full pardon from God and end his banishment from heaven, William plans a visit to a remote village deep within Iran’s Alborz Mountains to retrieve ‘silver coin number twenty-two’. But the CIA has a different objective for this trip, one that pits both father and son against an unscrupulous Russian billionaire searching for something else that’s just as precious within the ancient mountains of Iran…something that threatens peace in the modern world if William and Alistair fail to reach it first.
Long synopsis, I know, but a somewhat decent idea, right?
The title of the book and this synopsis make it sound as if the primary plot is about finding a coin, but it’s not. It’s more about the “CIA objective” mentioned in the synopsis. In fact, the coins are mentioned prior to the CIA entrance (though that was pretty early on) and then almost as an afterthought after the whole CIA situation is resolved. Though, the coin plot ties in ever so neatly with the CIA portion of the story.
The writing was definitely not the best. In fact, on three separate occasions the author wrote “Alistair and me” when it should have said “Alistair and I”. Here’s one of those examples:
“Even if it were just for a day while Alistair and me were in Iran,…” (location 498)
Seriously, I’m pretty sure I learned in elementary school that if I was unsure of whether to use “I” or “me” I should remove the other name and say the sentence again. By that logic, it would turn into “…while me was in Iran.” Really? (please correct me if I’m wrong)
In the beginning (no pun intended), the main character Judas talks to the reader almost like a lecture (“I’m sure that many of you have questions about this, and I’ll get around to explaining more about it all.” location 159). I felt that was kind of unnatural, considering it doesn’t really happen anywhere else. Okay, one other spot where after we know from the beginning that he is Judas and though he looks in his 30s and his son is in his 60s he feels the need to explain that all over again in case it’s hard to keep it all straight (location 992)….Not really…considering we’re set up with this information in the synopsis, never mind the story itself!
His description of himself was rather cocky and also seemed unnatural:
No doubt he enjoyed my face flush from rising indignation fed by my impatience. It’s a trait that women have often told me sets off my handsomeness. Something about my blue eyes becoming sapphire chips of icy fire. I believe it’s the quality that once made the fairer gender compare me to Errol Flynn back in the 1920s and more recently Pierce Brosnan. Not to mention my infectious charm and toned physique have never hurt my allure to women or me. (location 209)
Overall he seems really cocky and full of himself. He’s also kind of creepy when discussing women. When he’s talking about his therapist she goes from being disinterested to blushing and being attracted to him to winking at him in a naughty way all in a matter of minutes during a brief conversation. He also constantly describes the main female character in a leery way, almost. Commenting often on how beautiful she is and how she smiles or looks, like he can’t keep it in his pants. But he’s like 2000 years old and she’s in her late 20s. (Granted, he looks like he’s in his early 30s, but still).
A discussion with his son recapping something they had done prior to the start of the book was also somewhat unnatural because some of the details given wouldn’t happen in a conversation with the person who shared the experience. He should have just talked about it separately to the readers as he had already addressed them earlier.
There were a lot of repeats in the book, among them was a lot of grinning (particularly a “shit-eating grin”), and some female characters were described as coy or acting coyly. Use a thesaurus. One time he even called a smirk sheepish…I don’t really know how a smirk is sheepish. But whatever.
Okay, onto the story itself. It was whatever. It kind of moved quickly, though I didn’t find it to be a real page-turner. I really didn’t care for the Judas character (could you tell?) so that didn’t really motivate me to read as fast as I could. But as I got closer to the end, I tried to push myself to read faster, just to finish it. (I stuck with it mainly because I’d be able to use it for the What’s In a Name Challenge. ha)
There is at least one sequel but I’m not compelled to go out and get it.
Have you read this or anything else by this author?
(Photo from Goodreads.com)