Lately I seem to be catching up with books that were popular a year or two ago. Maybe that’s how long it takes for them to go on good sales for the Kindle. 🙂 At any rate, when The Methusaleh Project by Rick Barry came up as Kindle sale last year, I remembered seeing a number of favorable reviews about it, so I got it.
The first part of the book switches between two different story lines. In one, Captain Roger Greene is a US pilot flying on a mission in Nazi Germany in 1943. His plane is shot down and he is captured, but instead of being taken to a POW camp, he is taken to an underground bunker set up like a lab. He and six other captives are subjected to experiments by a Nazi doctor designed to accelerate the body’s healing and prolong life. If successful, the doctor will be able to to pass along this technology to the Nazi powers that be. When an Allied bomb destroys the building, the doctor, and all his research, as well as the six other captives, only Roger and the doctor’s assistant survive. The Nazi regime keeps Roger captive and sets up the doctor’s assistant in a new building to try to figure out what the doctor did to Roger so they can duplicate it.
The alternate story involves Katherine Mueller in Atlanta in 2015. Her parents died long ago and she was raised by her uncle. The major consideration in his life is the Heritage Organization, a secret society “aimed at challenging individuals to higher levels of achievement, improving the world with inventions and positive influences, then passing on a stronger heritage to the next generation.” He wants Katherine to move up the ranks in the organization, which involves excelling in marksmanship and field exercises involving tracking. She doesn’t know exactly what the organization does – only the higher-ups do – and it seems almost cultish to her sometimes. But her Uncle Kurt and both her parents were involved in it, and she trusts her uncle completely, so she wants to carry on the family tradition. Though she loves her uncle, she’s frustrated by his matchmaking involving only men from the organization, none of whom attracts her in any way.
I assumed these story lines would intersect at some point, though they were 70 years apart. And wow, did they ever! I won’t reveal how, but let’s just say this is the fastest I have read any book lately because I kept looking for opportunities to open it.
There were just a few speed bumps in the writing in the first part of the story, but I didn’t even note what they were except that Roger at first seemed beyond the stereotypical brash and breezy WWII American flyboy into something of a cliche in the first chapter or so. But that feeling dissolved pretty quickly, and it wasn’t long before I was totally wrapped up in the story, racing to see how the author would bring various elements together and whether some of my suspicions about some of the characters and the “organization” were accurate.
I’m not sure exactly how you’d classify this book. It’s part sci-fi, part historical fiction, part contemporary fiction, part action and suspense. It is Christian fiction: neither Roger nor Katherine are Christians at the beginning of the book. Roger has faint memories of a former Sunday School teacher encouraging him to pray, and he is given a Bible in captivity that long hours of inaction and desperation drive him to. I thought the author wove the faith element in quite naturally.
Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)