Review

Resurrection

by Tucker Malarkey



In RESURRECTION, yet another religious thriller in the recent spate
of releases in that genre, the late-1940s discovery of the Gnostic
gospels near Nag Hammadi in Egypt takes center stage against the
backdrop of the end of World War II in Europe and an impending war
between Egypt and Israel.

Linking all three settings is Gemma Bastian, a British nurse who
receives word that her father, Charles, an archeologist working in
Egypt, has died unexpectedly. She travels to Cairo, where she stays
with Charles's friend David Lazar and discovers that her troubling
thoughts about her father's death are not unfounded. Something her
father was working on made him a target for murder, and Gemma sets
out to find out what it was that got him killed. In the process,
she makes the acquaintance of Lazar's two sons --- the elder
Michael, a wounded British soldier who resents his father's seeming
preference for his younger stepbrother Anthony, an Egyptian
archeologist who had worked in the desert with Charles.

What Charles uncovered, of course, was the then-shocking content of
the Nag Hammadi find, the papyrus fragments that told a very
different story of Jesus and his disciples than the gospels found
in the Christian New Testament. The Gnostic gospels had become a
much-coveted commodity, both by the Catholic Church that wanted to
suppress them and by black-market traders who wanted to profit from
them. Charles would prove to be only one of the victims in the war
over ownership and possession of the fragments; others would have
to die as well.

While all this is unfolding, Michael takes a shine to Gemma, and
their relationship is among the strongest elements in the book. At
times, I felt as if I was watching a 1940s movie; Tucker Malarkey's
ear for authentic dialogue, especially for that era, is excellent,
as is her ability to create realistic and highly visual scenes.
Separated from Michael, however, Gemma becomes somewhat less
intriguing. Michael seemed to bring out the genuine, unmasked side
of Gemma, and she returned the favor for him. As a result,
Anthony's later attraction to her is something of an enigma,
because the spark in her personality surfaced only with
Michael.

But back to the Nag Hammadi intrigue. Gemma's efforts to find her
father's killer, as well as a mysterious document he apparently
wanted to entrust to her, are complicated by the fact that she's
being followed by a man with ginger-colored hair who unnerves her
to no end. She finds herself in more than one dangerous situation,
but she's determined not to leave Egypt until she finds what she's
looking for. Along the way, she learns a great deal about
Gnosticism and the recently discovered fragments --- and so do
we.

And it's in those sections that the novel loses its steam, for two
reasons: first, because the explanations and interpretations of the
gospels sound as if they came straight from the mouth of Elaine
Pagels, arguably the preeminent contemporary expert on the Gnostic
gospels; and second, because Malarkey, like Dan Brown in THE DA
VINCI CODE, makes a number of factual errors about church history
and the content of the Gnostic gospels. I was able to dismiss most
of the mistakes and the portions that revealed Malarkey's agenda
and not let them interfere with my enjoyment of the book, but one
implication rankled me enough to pull me out of the story --- the
notion that "good Christians" are expected to believe what they're
told, replace reason with faith, and accept without question what
they don't understand. Oh my. Best not to get me started on that
subject.

Malarkey is a skilled writer whose passion for sharing her interest
in the Gnostic gospels causes occasional snags in RESURRECTION. If
you can get past those glitches, you'll find a story worth
reading.

Resurrection
by Tucker Malarkey

  • Publication Date: July 20, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 159448919X
  • ISBN-13: 9781594489198