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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fiction Review: The Lazarus File

The Lazarus File, by Donn E. Taylor is a fun adventure novel.

Mark Daniel is code named “Lazarus,” because he’s died once and has been "resurrected." His CIA mission, known by only a handful of men, is to morph into Carlos Ortíz, act as a pilot for hire, and penetrate drug and arms traffickers in Medellín, Colombia. Soon he’s hijacked, and thus begins a series of near misses, adventures, sadness at losing friends, and even romance.

There were things I liked about this novel. I liked the character of Mark Daniel and his nobility. I liked the Señores Roca, the setting, and the adventure.

The writing is okay, but there are many repetitive passages, almost word for word, as if the writer thinks the reader might not have understood the concept the first, second, and third times.

Because this book is set in Colombia, the author includes some Spanish. Some of the Spanish is incorrect, and some of the translations are close, but backwards. For instance, he says “Mary Mother” for the expression “Mother Mary.” (In Spanish, it’s Madre María.) I felt someone bilingual should have read and corrected the manuscript before it went to print. Another example is making a huge point about espada being “spade.” In any dictionary, it means “sword.” The author translates the word “mirage” as miraje, when it should be espejismo.

There are also several serious misspellings, Porsche (the luxury car brand), among them.

My biggest issue, though, was with the book’s theology. The Señora de Roca has a wonderful inner calm. The book said she got it from a mass she attended. It refers to her peace and calm linked with a particular mass, as if it were a mystical experience that serves her for life. When a Roman Catholic mass is celebrated, a devout Catholic believes that the priest actually crucifies Christ again and that the wafer is transformed into His body and the wine into His blood. The Bible says, Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he (Jesus) did once, when he offered up himself (Hebrews 7:27). Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. . . . For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:12, 26). For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). The Bible clearly says that Jesus Christ died once and that it was a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world.

In our thirty-two years in Spain—a Roman Catholic country—we have never met one person who said he gained any kind of peace from going to mass. He might feel self-satisfied that he has done his obligation for the week, or he might even be trying to “win heaven” by works, but no one has ever told us he found peace from the mass. In contrast, Jesus says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). It is only when a person is born again that he can have peace in his soul. Jesus said to Nicodemus, That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. . . . For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:6-7, 16-17).

The author may have wanted to appeal to a greater audience, or he might have chosen the Roman Catholic faith because the lady protagonist is from Colombia. But, in order to write an honest review, I must point out the book’s faulty, misleading theology.

Back home, Mark Daniel’s CIA team knows there's one mole, but soon it’s obvious there are two. The question is, who is selling secrets to the enemy? And, how? In the meantime, Mark is in the field, doing daring drug and arms smuggling and finding out more about what the enemy is up to. They're planning an awful military coup, and he’s right in the middle of it.

I loved the parallel themes of keeping promises and death and resurrection. I enjoyed the action, the plot, and the ending. This is an exciting book, though it needs a good edit and accurate theology.

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