Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lost Mission

Title: Lost Mission
Author: Athol Dickson

Blurb (from Amazon)

Among the dirt-poor barrios and ultra-wealthy enclaves lining the hills of southern California, a construction project unearths a long-lost Spanish mission. This discovery sets off a chain of events that presents four unrelated people—Reverend Tucker Lockwood, Concha Rivera, Delano Jones, and Detective Harmony Killeen—with difficult choices. In every case, a greater good could be served with a compromise of some basic moral value. Lockwood could steal to feed the poor. Delano Jones could lie—or at least bury the truth—to protect his monument to God's law. Concha Rivera, a Christian with a strong sense of mission, could trespass to preach the Gospel. Detective Killeen could betray her sense of legal responsibility to defend her family. It seems these devil's alternatives will inspire these modern people to perpetuate the very crime that left the mission buried and forgotten 250 years ago—a mystery that is gradually revealed through research into a mysterious triptych excavated at the mission site, as well as through historical flashbacks. At least two themes of magical realism appear repeatedly through the story. First is the appearances of Santos, a mysterious being characterized by a crooked nose, in both the contemporary and historical storylines. And second, the gradual appearance of faces on the triptych as the story's four protagonists—often with the help of a mysterious Hispanic man with the crooked nose—decide whether they will repeat the mistakes of the past.

My take:

This is a complex story that is well-written. However... it is not linear at all. The author jumps back in forth in time, from one character's point of view to a different one - all without any warning at all. This can be unsettling. As good as the story was, I never got used to it and it bothered me throughout the entire book.

There are a lot of different issues covered in this book. It would be a good one for a group discussion and I didn't find the plot boring in the least. The characters are realistic and I wanted to find out what happened to them. I can't say I agreed with all the theological stands taken in the book, but there were a lot of good points made.

I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys a thoughtful book and doesn't mind it skipping around quite a bit.


  1. oh my goodness, i read a book recently with a lot of jumping back in time and i am nooooot looking forward to reading anything else like it anytime soon!!

    Thank you for the kind words about my move, YES we are covered in boxes too. I hope everything at your new place is going well!!

  2. thanks for the review, sounds like an interesting, complex book. God bless!

  3. Carrie ~ It was a good story - but jarring with the back and forth with no warning. Sometimes in the middle of a paragraph it would change times or from one place to another. That doesn't bother some readers at all, but I found it kept taking me out of the story and that was frustrating since the rest of it was so good.

    Alexandra ~ It was complex and interesting. There were a lot of topics covered and it certainly made you think. I also think it's very relevant to things that are happening right now in the world. If you read the book, I would love to hear what you think of it.