I love a good thriller with religious conspiracy connections. Ken Fry’s novel The Lazarus Succession fits the bill perfectly! Read on to discover my thoughts.
Synopsis (from the author): The Lazarus Succession takes readers to the ancient scene of Christ's greatest miracle, to medieval Spain, and back to modern-day Europe. In typical Ken Fry style, nothing is as it seems and a surprise awaits at every turn of the page.
According to legend, Annas Zevi, an artist who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, was told by Christ to paint what he saw. Over the centuries, his completed works has vanished, along with every other painting depicting Lazarus' resurrection. They were rumoured to be sacred icons with miraculous powers.
International Art Recovery Experts, Broderick Ladro and Ulla Stuart, are hired by a disgraced High Court judge, Sir Maxwell Throgmorton, to locate a long lost medieval painting by Spanish artist Francisco Cortez. Like Zevi, his work is said to be divinely inspired.
Throgmorton's client, a wealthy Spanish Condesa, is terminally ill and the icon is her last hope. She will pay and do whatever it takes to find the missing work of Cortez. Unbeknown to the Condesa, Throgmorton seeks to make a vast personal fortune from the discovery of the paintings, and use it to reclaim his place in society.
Ladro and Stuart learns of Throgmorton's deceit and attempts to thwart his plans. As they delve deeper into the mystery of the missing Cortez painting, they discover a secret that changes their lives forever.
Just as it changed the lives of everyone it touched across the centuries.
What I liked: This story drew me in immediately! The story started with a bang and kept up a great pace throughout. Brody and Ulla were great, Throgmorton was an excellent though odious player, and the Condesa was the perfect sympathetic character. Full of religious symbolism, action, and a mystical end, The Lazarus Succession was a fantastic read!
What I didn’t like: My only complaint was Throgmorton’s end. A little more mysticism would have played better to me given the way the story ended. I would say more, but then I’d have a spoiler and I don’t do that!
Overall impression: The Lazarus Succession was everything I wanted in a religious-themed thriller. Great characters, plenty of action, mystical happenings, and great pace made it a most enjoyable read! Well done Ken Fry!!
As a canvas use a mysterious painting with a religious subject, divine beauty, and a mythical status. Add two flawed anti-heroes, art thieves, and daredevils, an artist, and researcher with a various past and talents and his partner, a thrill seeking, tough beauty who doesn’t hesitate to use her gun whenever it’s necessary. Introduce the villain, a respectable member of society on the surface, a crooked and sociopathic on the inside. Join them together by the order of a wealthy Spanish noblewoman dying of terminal illness. Include toes curling suspense, character development, historical details, a killer twist and emotions as intense as the swirling colors of the lost medieval relic. The result is a fantastic novel by the author Ken Fry, worthy of an international fame and a bestselling status. It is the first time I’m reading that author’s work and it certainly left me with a desire to read more of his writing. He writes a masterful prose, strong and emotional, without ever becoming cheesy or melodramatic. His characters are well developed and intriguing, a lot more than they appear at first sight. The Lazarus Succession has a great historical and religious foundation combined with a dynamic plot, twists, and turns. Ken Fry knows how to keep the reader’s attention and trigger their emotional response. He is also great at switching the different points of views, whether they are of the sixteenth-century aspiring artist/monk or the twenty-first century art thief who goes through an unbelievable transformation. While I identify myself as an atheist, I was seriously impressed with the mixture of art and faith, love and personal loss, sacrifice and redemption. It raises some interesting questions of the fate of the artist and the impact their work may have. Some parts of the story left me feeling conflicted yet I can’t deny that the pace and the final resolution made perfect sense. Perhaps the only thing I wanted to see more of was the emotional and romantic connection between Brodie and Ulla. No, I don’t insist that there must be a romantic subplot in every novel but they truly felt more like business partners/partners in crime. That doesn’t bother me, their characters and interaction were great. I just feel that if the reader was shown a deeper emotional connection the impact of the ending would be even stronger and more poignant. Still, the story was powerful enough and the ending was more than appropriate. Perhaps you wonder what is it about this ending that pulls the reader’s heart strings? You have to read The Lazarus Succession and experience it yourself. I highly recommend it to all fans of historical thrillers and well-crafted, intense prose. Five Uprising Stars.