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THE ASSIGNMENT

Mark Andrew Olsen, Author
Mark Andrew Olsen, Author . Bethany $12.99 (462p) ISBN 978-0-7642-2817-9
Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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Troubles plague this jumbled suspense novel for the CBA market by Olsen, a screenwriter who collaborated with Tommy Tenney on the novel Hadassah . Deep below the ground, sealed alive in a tomb for 60 years, is a "man" who is 1,734 years old and whose mission is to battle demonic forces on behalf of the Christian faith. Searching for him is Father Thierry, a 95-year-old priest who is part of the Order of St. Lazare, a secret sect that the Vatican has tried to disband. "The destroyer," Satan's evil spirit of destruction, war and bloodshed, is at work to prevent them from reaching their goal. He's already wreaked havoc over the course of history, as detailed in the novel in a tiresome litany of human atrocities. Complicating things is tension between Jews and Catholics over the priest's perceived desecration of a Holocaust site. Olsen peppers his tale with bang-bang action, supernatural warfare and Christian history, but too many points of view confuse the reader and make the pacing fitful. There's no shortage of kidnappings, quicksand, gunfights, secret membership amulets, harrowing escapes, rape, murder and terrorists as the plot unfolds. Numerous italicized journal entries, letters and flashbacks make for challenging reading. There's also an obvious nod to the The Da Vinci Code in the idea of a secret Catholic sect. Olsen writes some good scenes and knows how to raise the occasional goose bump, but readers will have trouble sticking with his story. (July)

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