Published by WordCrafts Press on June 3, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Christian
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Jason got there first. You know how he works. He has the county officials in his back pocket. Nobody else could have gotten into the door that day. Nobody.
Julie’s excuse sounded hollow, even to her own ears. She had failed. She knew she had failed. She took a deep breath, folded her hands on her lap, and waited for Andy to finish his phone call, feeling very much like a schoolgirl called to the principal’s office.
But when Andy turned to face her, there was no fire in his eyes; no caustic edge to his voice. Instead the seasoned newspaper editor simply acknowledged that she had gotten scooped. By a TV reporter. Not the end of the world… but next time might be, at least as far as her employment at the Springfield Daily Press was concerned.
“You can redeem yourself on your next assignment,” he said, the steel in his voice offsetting the smile on his face. “It’s a simple assignment, really, with some long distance travel involved. You’ll fly to Ephesus and spend a couple of days doing on-site research, then you’ll head to the Isle of Patmos.”
Patmos? Julie bit her lower lip, the sinking feeling that she was being set up to fail tied her stomach in a knot.
“The island where the Apostle John was supposed to have been exiled? Why?”
“There have been reports from credible witnesses that John might still be there,” Andy replied. “Waiting for Jesus to return. I want you to find him.”
In Search of the Beloved is written by Marian Rizzo, a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist. Unfortunately, Rizzo can’t seem to shake her journalist roots, resulting in a book that is written as a series of conversations and interviews.
- Chapter one: Julie, a journalist, is told she’s been put on assignment in Ephesus because there’s a rumor that John the Apostle is still alive. She then has a conversation with a friend about this.
- Chapter two: Mark, a biblical history professor, is told he’s been put on assignment in Ephesus because there’s a rumor that John the Apostle is still alive. He learns that Julie is going with him. Julie and Mark used to date.
- Chapter three: Julie has conversations about John the Apostle.
- Chapter four: Mark has conversations about John the Apostle. A quote: “I want to gather enough data to apply for a $200,000 grant for the college. It doesn’t matter to me whether I find the old guy or not.” Wait. So in a world where John’s continued existence is just sort of accepted, you think that learning enough to apply for some vague grant (which is never mentioned again) is better than finding evidence that there’s a 2,000 year old man still alive?
- Chapter five: More conversations about John the Apostle.
And so on it continues. We meet John on about page 200, where the three engage in a series of conversations. John is cagey about his age, claims to have lived in several places around the world, and has a number of framed diplomas on his wall. After the series of conversations, John mentions as an aside that he thinks a friend of theirs (a rival journalist) stole his old chalice. We later learn that the rival journalist thinks it’s evidence that the man is John the Apostle. (It’s implied, but never stated that it might be the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper.)
Julie refuses to write a news article that exposes the man as John the Apostle and loses her job. Fortunately, she finds a new one. Mark and Julie rekindle their relationship—after showing zero chemistry—and the book is over.
Zero action. Just a movement from conversation to conversation. And the conversations are boring. The same information gets repeated over and over as the author laboriously recounts every detail she learned about Ephesus, Patmos, John, and the verse that can be misused to think he might still be alive. Characters seem to have zero care or passion. They’re bland, dull, and lack any creativity whatsoever.
The novel is bash-you-over-the-head American Christian—there’s a whole conversation about the troops and freedom that’s an absolute non-sequitur. But then again, a lot of things in this book are non-sequitur. Everything is disparate conversations with the loosest of threads to guide the characters from one place to the next. Slow, dull, and uninteresting, In Search of the Beloved is not good fiction. If you want a novel about John the Apostle still being alive, check out The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo.