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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
464 pages
Jul 2004
Bethany House

The Assignment

by Mark Andrew Olsen

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


What if the Restrainer,
"the one who holds back the secret power of lawlessness,"
 was a man?
What if he were Lazarus of Bethany?

Mark Andrew Olsen takes this improbable idea and makes it believable and gripping in The Assignment. The story opens with a group of seven men digging up an underground crypt outside the Birkenau Concentration Camp. Here a living man was buried by the Nazis during World War II. He has been without food, water, and air for over fifty years. Yet when they crack open the small cell, he opens his eyes and stands.

For 2000 years Lazarus has been on earth with an assignment from God: confine the Destroyer to hell and hold back the end. For years at a time the Destroyer''s human minions have sealed Lazarus away to prevent his exorcisms. Always God has returned him to freedom, often through the Catholic Order of St. Lazare, a group of seven men chosen to protect him. The order is kept so secret that the Pope doesn''t even know of its existence and believes that the rumors of Lazarus''s being alive are only that.

One of the first things that Lazarus does upon regaining his freedom is to seek out his last descendant, a graduate student named Nora McPheran. However, his enemies have found Nora and attack her to kill her as they have most of Lazarus''s other descendants. Lazarus fights them off but is mortally wounded, but God again returns him to earth with the joys of heaven tugging at him.

Nora has no understanding of why her family seems cursed. She sets off to explore the mysterious disappearance of her father years before and to find the strange man who was resurrected on the operating table.

But Satan''s minions are following her, led by a modernist priest filled with the Destroyer and associated with jihadists. The Destroyer and Lazarus must meet in a final duel. From New York to France to Ireland to Rome to Jerusalem they track each other with the CIA on their trails. Though Lazarus has always tried to subdue war and violence, his emergence leads the world to the brink of a third world war.

Fleeing attacks, hiding, and facing the truth about Lazarus, Nora confronts her own demons.

Olsen weaves the present and the past together to show a man tormented by immortality. He demonstrates the increasing sense of loneliness, despair, disillusionment, and failure Lazarus feels each time Heaven rejects him.

Olsen combines well-developed characters, a fast-paced plot, and an intriguing problem into a fascinating suspense novel. However, the passage that he uses to defend his idea is Hebrews 9:27, doesn''t really fit. Lazarus actually dies many times without facing the judgment. Even with stretching the verse, The Assignment is a fascinating and exciting story. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

For two thousand years he has wandered the shadows of humanity’s blood-stained history, secretly carrying out an ancient mission. Haunted by grief, longing for heaven yet denied it by the mystery and power of the unforgettable mandate given him, he once again appears…

Near the ruins of Auschwitz, members of a covert monastic order unearth one of the world’s most astonishing discoveries. Their find sets off a fierce international manhunt that soon embroils the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, Hamas terrorists, and renegade factions of the Vatican. The secret at the core of the global intrigue is the identity of this one extraordinary man who now walks twenty-first century Earth on a momentous assignment. An identity no one can believe, yet whose existence no one can deny.

Follow a disillusioned young priest, a terrified graduate student, and a spiritually fascinating man--from the shores of Normandy to the hills of Ireland, from the alleyways of Paris, Rome, and Jerusalem, to the halls of time itself--in a suspenseful thriller that combines the supernatural with unrelenting action, aching loss, and one life story that will sweep you to the very foot of Golgotha.