Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Magdalene Mystery

By: Christine Sunderland
Publisher: OakTara Publishers
Publication Date: February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60290-126-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2013

Christine Sunderland easily invites the reader to join her characters, Kelly Roberts and Daniel Weaver, on their religious quest to the far reaches of Rome, Italy in her latest novel, The Magdalene Mystery. The mission: uncover the real truth about Saint Mary Magdalene. The experience: nothing short of intrigue and adventure.

Kelly Roberts is a single mom and most recently, a single mom without a job. She worries about her five-year-old son, Matt. Her worries range from the fact he has asthma to his overall safety. It’s been ten years since the death of her parents—murder, actually; yet the shock of their deaths cuts like a knife when she thinks about how they died. What if something happens to her? Who will take care of Matt? As she dresses on that Saturday morning in May, she cannot shake the thoughts of loss and death. She’s off to another funeral; again, someone who was once a part of her life. When she received word of Father Gilbert’s passing, the familiarity of facing another loss came rushing back. He was her Godfather; yet she had lost touch with him after her parents’ death. In some respects, she blamed him for their tragic demise. As she finished her final touches, she gathered herself and Matt and just before she stepped out of her apartment, she straightened Father Gilbert’s icon that he’d given her years before. The image was one of three angels in the form of men who visited Abraham. Kelly couldn’t recall the exact story from the Old Testament, but she was drawn to the gilded image just the same. It was called “Trinity.”

After dropping Matt with her neighbor Andrea, Kelly leaves for Father Gilbert’s services. Upon arriving at Saint Mary’s, Kelly was consumed with the memories of Father Gilbert. He was her inspiration to pursue her religious studies at Berkeley. When he left to return to Rome, Kelly drifted away from the church as well as her religious beliefs. Father Gilbert was no more than a fading memory as was the case with the many tenets of her professors. When she meets Daniel Weaver at the graveside and learns Father Gilbert was his mentor, Kelly soon learns her life is about to veer off in a completely unexpected direction. It seems Father Gilbert has left his goddaughter a legacy, but she must travel halfway around the world with Daniel in order to receive it. What Kelly doesn’t know is the mysterious Lester Sansby is going to do everything in his power to make sure he gets to her legacy before she does.

Christine Sunderland has written a wonderfully thought-provoking story in her depiction toward the allure and wonder of the life of the religious icon, Saint Mary Magdalene. Her writing flows beautifully as she delivers page upon page of in-depth and breath-taking depictions of the myriad of Roman churches her characters Kelly Roberts and Daniel Weaver encounter. Ms. Sunderland’s writing is authoritative as she tackles a complex and theological plot. Nowhere does her writing falter from anything less than a fast-paced and intriguing read. What I found to be extremely helpful is how she catered to her audience by including a very helpful notes section at book’s end. It includes a wealth of information that provides not only directions in a church, but terminology and her context toward its usage—brilliant! Ms. Sunderland has done an admirable job in delivering a most entertaining and theologically fascinating story.

Quill says: The Magdalene Mystery is as much an informational and educational read as it is wonderfully entertaining.

For more information on The Magdalene Mystery, please visit the author's website at:

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