The Prophecy by Chris Kuzneski. Putnam. 384 pages. $25.95
Remember the Bill Cosby / Robert Culp “I Spy” television series? Well, Chris Kuzneski has raised the ante for black/white dynamic duos with his perfectly paired team of David Jones and Jonathan Payne. Friends since they were linked in military service as Special Forces operatives, Payne and Jones have an assortment of combat skills that will amaze readers. They also have complimentary personalities that allow them to engage in endless – and humorous – bickering and bantering. They are competitive, but ultimately they are wedded to one another as loyal comrades in arms.
The case that finds them in “The Prophecy,” available on July 8, brings a young woman to Pittsburg who enlists their aid to unscramble and interpret a coded document that has mysteriously come her way. She finds them at a charity event, where business tycoon Payne is the featured speaker. Before long, the woman is murdered and Payne and Jones, who runs a detective agency, find themselves hunted by skilled thugs who would seem to be after that document.
Kuzneski skillfully develops the novel’s plot across time and space, beginning with a prologue in which the historical Nostradamus, living at Salon-de-Provence, France, seals a letter and several other documents in a wooden box, which he delivers, with instructions, to his lawyer. He dies soon after. The year is 1566 (a number to be reckoned with later in the novel). Readers learn that this mysterious man set up a trust fund to secure the secrets the box contains for centuries to come. Then it is revealed that in present-day Geneva, a gentleman named Louis Keller is about to be released from responsibilities to a trust fund that had been a family obligation for generations. However, he needs to follow instructions secured in a Credit Suisse safe deposit box.
With these teasers, Mr. Kusneski allows us to assume that the mysterious coded letter is connected, through Keller and his family, back to the legendary Nostradamus. But what are the secrets it holds or leads to? What are those secrets worth? To what end will people go to obtain them? Or is it merely the collectors’ value of antique documents that has made the woman with the letter a target – and then Payne and Jones?
To read this review in its entirely, as it appears in the Fort Myers Florida Weekly for July 14-20, 2010 and the Naples Florida Weekly for July 15-21, click here: Florida Weekly – Chris Kuzneski