Review

The Messenger

by Jan Burke

When a salvage diver in the Caribbean Sea hears an insistent
voice inside his head, he dismisses it as nothing more than a
mechanical failure. But when the voice goes on to promise Eduardo
Leblanc immense wealth, knowledge and power in exchange for his
help, he can’t resist acquiescing to the voice’s
commands. The “voice” is as good as its word, but
Eduardo’s Faustian bargain unleashes a force nearly as evil
and unforgiving as the devil himself.

For fans of Jan Burke, her latest novel may come as a bit of a
surprise. Best known for her Irene Kelly mystery series,
she sets out in an entirely different direction in THE MESSENGER.
This supernatural thriller features immortal beings, cemetery dogs,
spontaneous combustion and a whole graveyard’s worth of
ghosts.

Though the book begins with Eduardo, the real story commences 10
years later, when Tyler Hawthorne visits a dying neighbor. Aside
from the fact that he is rich, handsome and far more world weary
than the average twenty-something bachelor, Tyler also has the odd
habit of showing up at the bedsides of people who are near death.
When Tyler tells his neighbor Ron that he’s not going to die
after all, Ron’s friend, Amanda Clarke, doesn’t bother
to hide her disgust. She pegs Tyler as the worst sort of con artist
--- one who preys on the weak so he can take advantage of them. But
after Ron experiences a miracle recovery within days of
Tyler’s visit, Amanda begins to rethink her judgment and
regret some of her accusations.

Over the next few months the two begin to grow closer, but Tyler
can’t trust Amanda enough to reveal his secret: that when he
lay dying at Waterloo nearly two centuries earlier, he met a
strange young man and made a deal to save his life. As Tyler
watched thousands of undelivered letters flutter across the
battlefield, he found himself wishing he could deliver them to the
friends and family members they were meant for. Following an
impossibly rapid recovery, he soon finds himself doing more or less
the same thing. He becomes a Messenger, an essential link between
the dying and their loved ones, perhaps the only man who has the
ability to help them send messages they aren’t capable of
sending themselves.

Unfortunately, Adrian deVille, Lord Varre, the young man who
gave Tyler his unusual powers, now wants to take them away --- or
at least to reclaim the immortality he had intended to
“temporarily” bestow upon Tyler so he could age a
couple of decades. To make matters worse, Tyler has no idea that
Lord Varre is even a threat; he believes that Lord Varre’s
remains are safely locked away in a chest at the bottom of the
ocean.

I’ve been a fan of the Irene Kelly series for a
few years now and am new to the realm of the supernatural thriller,
so this book was a bit of a stretch for me. Tyler and Amanda are
interesting, likable characters and the plot is well crafted, but
Lord Varre isn’t entirely convincing as an antagonist. Though
he is supposed to be the embodiment of evil, at times ---
especially toward the end of the novel --- Lord Varre seems more
comical than frightening. Still, for fans of the paranormal genre,
THE MESSENGER will likely prove an engaging read.

Reviewed by Lori Lamothe on January 7, 2011

The Messenger
by Jan Burke

  • Publication Date: December 30, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743273877
  • ISBN-13: 9780743273879