Review: “Stolen Shroud” by Daniel Westlund

Stolen Shroud by Daniel Westlund. For the Win Publishing. 334 pages.

I’ve said in this blog before that one of my biggest criticisms of Christian fiction is that writers either focus on the spiritual aspect without the story, or the story aspect and lose the spiritual aspect. It’s hard to do both effectively. I think Daniel Westlund has done a pretty good job with both with Stolen Shroud. Here’s the Amazon summary:

His faith was in tatters. And after being so close. Professor Mark Eberhart was set to carbon date the Shroud of Turin. He was going to finally find out if this relic was real, and if it could revive his dwindling Christian faith. But the Shroud was stolen right in front of him . . . by thieves who possessed super human powers.

But that’s not the reason for Mark’s sudden crisis of faith. As he and journalist Cora Byron attempted to recover the Shroud, he learned some disturbing news. At the same time he was scheduled to test the Shroud, other scientists were running DNA tests on the supposed lost bones of Jesus—tests which proved that these were, in fact, the real bones of Christ. And that the Resurrection never happened.

As I said, Westlund does a reasonable job of including spiritual values in a story with strong science fiction elements, and credible science in a Christian story. That’s not easy to do. The story starts off with, as the title says, the theft of the Shroud of Turin. From there, it gets really, really complex.

One would think the story would orbit around the theft and the nature of the shroud, etc. But it spends more than half the book in flashbacks. And that’s where the story kind of loses me.

There are a lot of characters in this story, and a lot of threads to follow. Each of the main characters, which there are several, have storylines of their own. And each of them have backgrounds that have to be told. It all makes sense in the end, but because it seems like every other chapter we are jumping back to recount another story from the past, it gets hard to keep a stream of thought going.

One other complication is that Westlund tells one characters viewpoint in first person, present tense, while all the others are in third person, past tense. I’m sure there’s some rationale for his approach here, but it doesn’t seem to work for me.

As I said, the story has a lot of good merits: good science, great spiritual truths and good characterization. But there is a lot of confused structure that made me struggle with the story.

I give it four out of five stars.