Patrick Tilley
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MISSION - REVIEWS : Jim Kelly, Little Brown

In what must be seen as a stroke of terrific luck (struck by Divine Providence?) as well as, naturally, of publishing genius, Little Brown will publish this September 21st its first-ever trade paperback-original novel. The move is lucky and wise because MISSION is likely to find its first audience among people with the reputation for being paperback buyers, those of us who are under 30 and those of us for whom 30 always seemed like the end until somehow we emerged on its other side, unscathed and apparently to ourselves, at least, unchanged.

MISSION is probably the most original and unusual piece of fiction I have read. Although it does take an open mind to read, much less to accept some of its attempts at rewriting history, MISSION's appeal is so universal and its message so powerful that it may very well be the sleeper of the Fall Season and of many seasons to come.

The book is anchored in the reader's psyche during portions of the second chapter. Little Brown's promotion department has excerpted some of these sections in a point-of-sale giveaway and our top 100 trade paperback fiction stores will get copies of these excerpts to be used to build interest for the book before it is released. I must warn you not to read this excerpt unless you are prepared to immerse yourself for a couple of days in the book itself once it arrives in your stores.

MISSION will attract readers of Tom Robbins, readers of Tom Wolfe, readers of early Hunter Thompson and readers of the Bible. To "Which of the above four does not fit the pattern?", any reader will instantly reply, "Bible readers." I know it doesn't look like it fits. And I know this review hasn't yet given much of a hint as to just what this MISSION is s all about. It's just that itís a little hard to start right out saying that MISSION is a very serious attempt to better understand the facts of the life of The Man who is the central figure of the New Testament, who he was, how he got there and how his message has been subtly and ever-so-slightly twisted over nearly two millennia.

Patrick Tilley, MISSION's author, has presented himself a huge challenge in attempting to pull this story off. But pull it off he really does. Readers don't mind that MISSION's central character, Leo Resnick, a Jewish New York City lawyer, is actually correcting some of the inaccuracies in the best-selling book of all time, although that fact may cause MISSION to be banned in some strongholds of the moral majority. The reader doesn't mid this audacity because Tilley's (Resnick's) attitude is not pompous or preachy and he does not make anybody wrong. He's simply correcting some errors that have evolved over time. It helps, too, that he has more and better answers to some of the perennial questions raised by bible reader than I was ever exposed to when I minored in philosophy and theology. Even more important, the story is compelling. Just how are things going to develop for Leo and his friend Miriam Maxwell, M.D. after the Friday evening that they witness the corpse of a man who arrived in Manhattan General Hospital with whip wounds on his back, a knife wound in his side, nail wounds in both feet and both wrists and thorns stuck into his skull, revive before their eyes? What kind of relaxed weekend is Leo going to have when the same Man appears in the living room of his upstate retreat the next morning?

I hope this is enough to whet your appetites. Read it and you will love it. Sell it, buy it for yourself and give it to your friends. The book will be in all stores.

Jim Kelly
Little Brown

Copyright © 2002 Patrick Tilley. All rights reserved.