cover image The Testament

The Testament

Eric Van Lustbader, . . Forge, $24.95 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1463-5

Bestseller Lustbader (The Bourne Legacy ) jumps on the Da Vinci Code bandwagon with this high-octane but familiar tale of yet another lost gospel that would rock the Catholic world. This time, the secret for which the faithful are not prepared is that Jesus was restored to life by "The Quintessence," the mysterious fifth element, rather than by divine assistance. Competing secret factions, of course, pursue this substance, with its promise of eternal life, plus a fragment of the Testament of Jesus Christ , which confirms its existence. The cloak-and-dagger war draws in Bravo Shaw, a medieval scholar whose father was a secret member of the centuries-old Order of the Gnostic Observatines before the repressive Knights of St. Clement murdered him. With the help of Jenny Logan, another Gnostic Observatine agent, Bravo dodges death and betrayal every few pages. Dan Brown fans who like their thrillers dressed up with research and ingenious puzzles won't find much of that here, but the action-packed story will keep them turning the pages anyway. (Sept.)