The Last Disciple

Written by James Holmes
Review by Misty Urban

In the present day, commando John Sunday finds a painting on the body of a terrorist in Syria that points to the resting place of the last remains of Jesus. Sunday is then assigned to guard the archaeological team dispatched to Jordan, funded by the CIA and headed by his ex-wife, Kat Devier. But the clay jar they discover in the secret cave puts more than just their lives at risk, for its contents hold a power beyond life and death, and its secrets prove the key to unlocking the gates of hell.

Alternating with John and Kat’s battles against the ruthless and endlessly resourceful enemy out to kill them is the story of Longinus, the centurion who lances Jesus’s side at the crucifixion and gains the power of resurrection. Longinus witnesses the growth of the cult of Yeshua through the reigns of the emperors Caligula and Nero, but his quest to reunite with his wife, Licinia, will lead him to put his own twist on Biblical prophecy.

Holmes’s interpretation of the Christian mythos overshadows its promises of joy and salvation with darker, more sulfurous Biblical texts, and his nightmare world of terrors is a far cry from the cheerful treasure hunting of Dan Brown and his imitators. There’s also a much higher body count. The apocalyptic ending holds less of a resolution than a lead-in to the next book in the trilogy, but readers will be swept up in the taut writing, relentless action, and clever plotting as Longinus’s legacy is revealed. Fans of first-century Christian and Roman history will enjoy the book’s take on key events and the terms in which it imagines the ageless battle of good vs. evil. For those with a strong stomach, this first in a promised trilogy is a memorable roller-coaster ride.