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The Painted Messiah Paperback – 24 Jun 2008
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'I got paper friction burns on my fingers and pressure sores elsewhere because I could barely move until I'd finished it. Things were so tense that at several points I had to remind myself to breathe.' --Dovegreyreader literary blog
'A marvellously thrilling book . . . the distinction between villain and hero is constantly blurred. . . a most enthralling story.' --Paul Doherty, author of the Hugh Corbett Mysteries
'...a rattling good yarn. Fast paced, exciting and very very filmic.' --Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover
About the Author
Craig Smith holds a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Southern Illinois and is a former professor of English and Humanities at the University of North Colorado. His first novel, published in the UK and Australia as Silent She Sleeps and in the US as The Whisper of Leaves, won a bronze medal in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards. Craig Smith lives with his wife in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Top customer reviews
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The story is built around an old legend about a picture of Christ painted from life and supposedly with miraculous properties- said to have inspired Oscar Wilde's Dorian Grey. Author, Craig Smith's premise is that the portrait was painted on Pontius Pilate's orders. When it turns up nearly two millenia later all hell breaks loose as those rich enough, smart enough or ruthless enough to know are prepared to go to any lengths to get their hands on it.
What follows is a glorious contemporary thriller with an erudite helping of historical back story.Far more like Ludlum than Dan Brown in style the action scenes are vivid and cinematic, the dialogue really crackles and the pace never slackens. Though none of the characters are squeaky clean, the real villans are as sadistic and threatening as any thriller lover could wish for and there's also a delicious triple twist at the end.
I might have read a faster moving and more compulsive novel than this. But if I have, I swear, I can't remember what or when.
Beg, borrow, buy or steal a copy. Kill for one if you must. You won't be disappointed.
Move over Morell, Ludlum, Cornwall and Diehl, Smith is coming to town !!
I have to agree with the two previous reviewers, in that the book's first 200 pages are really quite boring, not at all you would want, or expect, in a thriller. Thrillers are meant to be pacy and action-packed but the first 200 pages are drivel, dull, tedious and not well written. Matters are not helped with the author's annoying tendency to go off on a tangent, wasting 3-4 pages at a time on things that are irrelevant to the story. Although the flashbacks to Pilate are ultimately relevant to the plot, there are too many that aren't. The author could have achieved explaining the background to the present-day situation and the image of Christ in a third of what he took. The dialogue is also a bit suspect. The characterisation is poor - there was a general need for more background - indeed we are told the protagonist, Malloy, is a retired agent, but are never told from what agency.
However, it is not all bad. By comparison, the second section of the book, once we get to the aborted exchange of cash for the painting of Christ, is rather more exciting. True, there are still dialogue difficulties, but this section is action-packed, intense, even gripping. We have kidnappings, a bit of torture, parachute jumps, gunfights etc- everything you'd want in a thriller. It is this second section that saves the book from being thrown in the bin as a waste of paper.
Why is this a missed opportunity? Because it should have been given 4 stars instead of 2. If the first half of the book had had the same non-stop action and intensity as the second, then this would have easily warranted 4 stars.
Cautiously recommended only on the strength of the novel's second section.
The plot is brilliant full of twists and turns that will leave you guessing right until the end. Craig Brown has done a superb job in bringing the past and present together in a plausible manner creating a totally enthralling story.
I eagerly await his next novel.
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