Controversial religious texts are discovered in the Egyptian desert. Unscrupulous men battle to control them, while others ponder their meaning and impact on the Christian faith. No, it's not a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, it's Resurrection, an absorbing novel from Tin House editor Tucker Malarkey.

Gemma Bastian is a nurse who has survived the trauma of the London Blitz, most tragically her mother's death in a bombing raid. As the novel begins, she learns of the sudden death of her father, Charles, a former seminarian turned archaeologist whose final letter from Egypt tells her he's rediscovered a God that even you will believe in. Gemma travels to Egypt to meet her father's friend David Lazar and his sons, Michael, a wounded fighter pilot, and Anthony, another archaeologist. Gemma haunts the libraries, museums and back streets of Cairo, painstakingly seeking the significance of her father's involvement with the Gnostic Gospels, as shadowy figures work to thwart her quest.

Alongside this religious detective story, Malarkey weaves the tale of Gemma and Michael, two people damaged in different ways by war and seeking to recover their previous lives. These multidimensional characters help to elevate the novel above the level of a conventional thriller. Loosely based on the actual circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels at Nag Hammadi in 1945, Resurrection mingles its fictional characters with some of the real figures involved. The book features excerpts from the lost gospels, enabling curious readers to appreciate their beauty and reflect on their religious significance, especially the role of women in the early Church. Yet Resurrection is hardly a dry religious text. In captivating prose, Malarkey evokes the dusty streets and brilliant sunsets of post-World War II Cairo, introducing readers to an exotic and mysterious world.

This thoughtful novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels as a mystery, a love story or, perhaps most compellingly, as a tale of the search for religious faith. However it's read, Resurrection offers an assortment of pleasures.

Harvey Freedenberg writes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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