Patrick Tilley
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MISSION - REVIEWS : The Bookseller

Second Time Around

What could I do bet read it, when of an enclosed proof its publisher told me: 'I am sending you a book which we feel is one of the most extraordinary and impressive novels we have ever published. Everyone is enormously excited about it.'

An American reviewer (the novel was published in New York by Little, Brown last week) suffered similar excitement, splurging: 'Mission will attract readers of Tom Wolfe, the early Hunter Thompson, and readers of The Bible. To "Which of the above does not fit the pattern?" any reader will instantly reply: "Bible readers." 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 tow millennia. Read it and you will love it.'

Mission (Michael Joseph, 2nd November, ?.95, ?.95 in trade soft-covers; Sphere will paperback it next year) is by Patrick Tilley, who lives in a North Wales farmhouse, and I am suitably impressed by his macabre talent for tale-telling. Mission really is a remarkable novel.

A facetious title for Mission would be I Am Back and I Can Prove It, for it tells how Jesus Christ is discovered by a worker in a hospital morgue. Seeing the body of a male with dark hair and a beard, about 30 years old, with bad wounds in his hands and hear, and side, she asks 'Doesn't he remind you of someone?' when suddenly the body disappears off the slab.

What happens then is mind-boggling. The narrator meets The Man again on the New York streets and realised that through a twist of time and fate he is, indeed, in company with Christ on his second coming. The Man has not returned to redeem mankind, but to explain what really happened after the crucifixion, and what he thinks of today's world.

Brilliantly imagined, Mission can be read and understood by all who know and respect the New Testament, or even by those who know the Bible from desultory readings of one of those editions place by the Gideons in hotel bedrooms.

The Bookseller
October 24, 1981

Copyright 2002 Patrick Tilley. All rights reserved.