The Testament of James

The Testament of James

Case Files of Matthew Hunter
and Chantal Stevens

A Book Review

By Oliver Del Signore

Oliver Del Signore

Website Exclusive • January, 2015

When an email arrived from long-time BHM friend Vin Suprynowicz asking if I would like a review copy of his new novel, I thought, “Hell, yes!” BHM readers may remember I reviewed his first foray into fiction, The Black Arrow, and found it “a first-rate epic of intrigue, adversity, and triumph.” I was eagerly anticipating more of the same when the new novel arrived, and was surprised when I saw the inscription included “Something a little different.”

The Testament of James is certainly different, all in good ways.

Matthew Hunter is the owner of Books on Benefit, a shop that deals in old and rare books. Following the untimely death of his manager, one particularly old and rare manuscript, The Testament of James the Just, only recently delivered, is found to be missing, if it was ever there at all.

Matthew and a small cadre of employees and friends must first find the book, determine if it is real or a fake, and answer the question of whether of not James, the brother of Jesus, did, indeed, write about his brother’s ministry and crucifixion, and secrets that have been repressed by religions almost from the beginning. Complicating matters are the competing forces who want the book at any cost, to spread the truth in one case, or, in another, to lock it away and continue repressing its secrets.

Vin’s previous books, essay collections Send In The Waco Killers and The Ballad of Carl Drega, and the aforementioned The Black Arrow, were concerned with libertarianism and the politics of big government. Changing both face and focus, Testament concerns itself with the history and politics of Christianity, with a little libertarianism, as well. I will admit I was sure by the end of Part Three (of Five) that I knew where the story was headed and what message Vin hoped to convey. I was wrong on both counts.

Part of what’s “a little different” about the book are the pace and tone. Both are more relaxed, as befits a story that plays out primarily in a bookstore. Add to that well-drawn, interesting characters, and dialogue that not only entertains but challenges you to think about things you’ve “known” all your life, and you have a story that keeps you turning pages. And if you enjoy strong female characters, I think you’ll love Chantal.

Another thing that’s different is the inclusion of a bibliography at the end with twenty-one references for readers who may want to explore further some things touched on in the book.

If you are tired of reading the same old things by the same old authors " or even if you’re not " give this “Something a little different” a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.

The Testament of James
A Novel by Vin Suprynowicz
Mountain Media
208 pages, 2014
Hardcover: $32.50 + $3.75 S&H.
Kindle Version: $5.99

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