Monday, December 29, 2014

The Testament of James: A Pre-Review


I am, as of a few days ago, proud owner of copy #19 of a numbered, signed, hardcover limited edition (650 copies) of the first edition of Vin Suprynowicz's new novel, The Testament of James. Sweet!

Why a "pre-review?" Because I'd like to see that limited edition sell out quickly, and I'd like to help make that happen. I've read part of the novel and have a few impressions to offer, but not a complete review.

First, let me pass on a warning straight from the horse's mouth: The Testament of James is "something a little different."

Different, that is, from Vin's two essay collections (Send in the Waco Killers and The Ballad of Carl Drega) and his first novel (The Black Arrow). The first two, of course, are non-fiction red meat for libertarians; the third is a "tale of the resistance" in a near-future American police state (which, as you might guess, is also quite libertarian in both plot and theme). I value all three books highly in my own library and heartily recommend them.

So, what's "a little different" about The Testament of James? Well, so far (I've finished part one), there are definite similarities to his other books (no love for government; a strong female lead character similar to that in The Black Arrow; etc.). But to the extent that this novel is didactic, it's not teaching/preaching about politics, it's teaching about, or at least exploring, the history of Christianity.

This is not new ground for me. I've read and enjoyed several of the books that Suprynowicz cites as references to the factual claims the story revolves around (lost gospels, differing opinions on the nature of Christ and the events leading up to his crucifixion, etc.). In terms of being "a little different," I guess what Vin is getting at is:

If you're looking for a libertarian political tract wrapped in a good story, this probably isn't for you.

If you're looking for a good story -- with a libertarian streak, of course -- that challenges some of the beliefs you probably grew up around and perhaps even hold yourself, you'll want to read it.

Quick summary of the book's beginning: An employee of Books on Benefit, a rare/antique book store, has suddenly died and a rare old manuscript he was thought to be handling seems to be missing. As you might guess, the manuscript is called The Testament of James and several people want it for various reasons (including to destroy it).  Matthew Hunter (the store's owner) and Chantal Stevens (his love interest) are on the case.

Quick teaser: If the dust jacket isn't just pulling my leg, we can expect another Hunter/Stevens adventure -- this one dipping into the Cthulhu mythos! -- in 2015.

Goest thou and purchase the book. You know you want to. I may well come back with a more detailed review later, but having read the first part I am already hooked. And I don't expect to be disappointed later, except that I do expect to want more.

[Addendum, a few minutes after the post: I completely forgot to mention that my copy of The Testament of James is a "review" copy. I didn't pay for it. To the extent that that makes this "sponsored content," I thought you should know. But you should also know that I'd have written what I wrote even if I had paid for the book - TLK]

[Addendum, 12/31/14 -- After the pre-review comes the post-pre-review review]

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