AD 33. Flea is the runt of the Temple Boys gang who thieve for a living in Jerusalem, a city ruled with a heavy hand by the Romans. The Feast of the Passover is approaching, and people are streaming into the city for the celebration. The political situation is volatile, and Roman authority is alert for any disturbances. It is also an ideal opportunity for pick-pocketing. Flea picks up a rumour that a magician is coming with his followers. Rich pickings, he thinks. But he soon discovers that the ‘magician’, Yeshua, is not all he seems.
On one level, the story follows events leading up to the first Easter; on another, it’s about growing up and learning to think for oneself. Jamie Buxton is interested in exploring how people can see what they want to see, and in the power of suggestibility.
Flea befriends Jude, once Yeshua’s closest friend and loyal supporter, who now has doubts about what Yeshua is planning. Jude wants to save Yeshua from himself, as he sees it; Flea wants to save Jude. The heavy hand of the Results Man, the Roman in charge of security, is breathing down their necks; it’s a race against time.
Jamie Buxton is good at getting across the tensions of a city under foreign domination. There is a chilling account of Flea fleeing through a no-go area which was once the scene of a Roman massacre of Jewish citizens, where now there is nothing but rats and bones.
I found Temple Boys an interesting read, but I was concerned about the opportunities for confusion. Unless the reader is well acquainted with the Christian story, and familiar with 1st-century Roman history and the complexities of Judæan contemporary politics, they could have problems following the plot. For thoughtful children of 12 plus.