'The Messiah Code' is the debut novel from Michael Cordy. It gives away quite a bit on the back of the book, far more than I thought it should. It reveals that a scientist's daughter is dying and only the blood of salvation shed twenty centuries ago can save her. At the same time, a secret brotherhood are awaiting, and actively seeking, the new messiah. Can the scientist reveal the mysteries of the greatest healer who ever walked the Earth?
The story follows scientist Dr Tom Carter. He is a DNA specialist and is involved in cutting edge advances which are curing all kinds of diseases. He appears to have the perfect life but this is all shattered very early in the book.
I thought the revelation that Dr Carter had to save his daughter, and to do so, he was looking to unlock the secrets of Christ's healing powers was too much to give away. I must admit this did make me buy the book but when I was reading it, and only uncovering this link over 100 pages in, I kept thinking that this would have been a nice twist to introduce. However, pre-armed with this knowledge I just wanted to reach the part where it was revealed in the story. This lead to a feeling of wanting to rush through the opening quarter of the book; which was a pity.
What impressed me about this book is the way the author effortlessly passed on quite detailed knowledge to the reader, about DNA, cancer and other diseases. I felt that I was learning quite a bit from reading the book without it ever coming across as preachy or patronising. This is always done naturally in the story and is usually through dialogue between characters. Generally, one a layman and one an expert. Not an easy thing to achieve but I thought it was dealt with perfectly.
Any book which has an element of religion in it has to tread carefully, so not to offend people. Again, Cordy deals with this well. His principal character, Dr Carter is an atheist, however, one of the people in his team has fairly strong religious beliefs. This way a lot of the pro-religion arguments are dealt with within the book, between the characters. In fact Cordy is clearly very knowledgeable when it comes to the Bible as there are numerous references and quotes which progress the story. These discussions between believer and atheist were some of the highlights of the book. A lot of the questions asked and topics covered were obvious ones but Cordy introduces a few other I hadn't thought of and I felt both sides arguments were treated fairly with the author's own views not being thrust upon the reader.
There were a number of times where I felt the story had progressed too far down a certain route and the author had left himself with no options. However, with one exception, I found he produced a twist that was excellent, but more importantly plausible and this was the main strength of the story. When you write a story looking to use Christ's healing power then I assumed I would have to accept some ridiculous aspects. Pleasingly this was not the case.
I said with one exception, even that exception was forgivable in a fiction book. It wasn't to do with the scientific aspects, it was more to do with the revelation of who an individual was. When there was a search to reveal the identity of one individual (I think the book said there would be less than 20 people on the planet with the requirements) you just knew that it would turn out one of the integral characters would fit the bill. This seemed a coincidence too far but as I say in a fiction book it was understandable and almost expected. This was the only thing that would stop this being an almost perfect read.
There are parts to this story that are formulaic, especially if you have read the Da Vinci Code. Things like the secret brotherhood and assassins working on their behalf will be familiar. In fact it was these similarities which put me off reading this for a while. However, the similarities aren't much beyond these points and to my mind it is every bit as good a read, if not better. However, one annoying thing (hidden on the back) is that this book was previously published as 'The Miracle Strain'. So it seems that a conscious decision has been made to include code in the title which is quite sad when I thought the author and/or publisher would want to distance comparisons. In fact, all of Cordy's first four books have been re-titled, three of them to include the word Code. Whilst this is a minor thing, there are people on Amazon complaining that they have bought the same book twice as they didn't know that it had been re-titled. Something to watch out for if you have read any of Cordy's other books.
The ending of the book was particularly strong. I thought it was going down a generic path but it produced a few thought provoking twists near the end and the last page is perfect (annoyingly I caught the last sentence when I was looking at the final page number, avoid doing this!).
This is as good a book as I have read in a while. I would thoroughly recommend it.
ISBN - 987-0-552-15405-5
540 pages (to save you looking!)
£5.49 on Amazon.