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Reviews: Passing Through
Author: Robert Phillip Desjardins
I first met Bob Desjardins, the author (he is also an influential California attorney) when I reviewed several of his previous novels ( A Darker Shade of Orange and Land of the Saints). When he sent me a synopsis of Passing Through a year ago, I got excited. When I received it in the mail recently, finished and published, I felt anticipation.
The wait was well worth it.
The science of Cryonics, freezing humans with life threatening diseases, and then reviving them at a later time in the future when cures have been discovered for their diseased bodies, has been around a long time. Passing Through delivers a moral, ethical and human drama, as its characters demand questions as they themselves are put into a frozen state: what dimension are these souls truly sent to, if their souls are present at all?
Surreal, yet passionately consorting with current scientific possibilities, Passing Through stuns as it drives the tale of the Douglas family, and Kevin Douglas, a man that Forbes states is one of the wealthiest men in the world. Kevin Douglas is the patriarch of Douglas Industries, and Kevin has been awarded almost every commendation in the world. Kevin’s right hand man, Bob Hackman, is present when Kevin passes out at a huge award ceremony and is rushed to New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. It appears that Kevin has contracted a terminal incurable disease and has about 6 months to live.
Kevin’s older brother Donny Douglas has been dead for many years. Donny established a large charitable foundation assisting Mexico and its citizens and left his wife Meryl in charge of the Douglas Foundation. Their son, Matt, took over running the Foundation for the family but Kevin and Matt are having the same problems that Kevin and Donny had: Kevin wants to make more trillions of dollars, Matt in the name of Donny, wants to divert more of the family’s huge financial holdings into the Foundation for helping people. Kevin is financial. Matt is idealistic. And Meryl supports her son Matt in the family dynamics.
Intelligent, well written prose and an ingenuous plot puts Passing Through on the top of the Fiction to be Read list at The Review Broads. Not just a crime novel, but a complex reflection on theology, philosophy, scientific ethics and the more tangible dynamics of family and wealth, Passing Through touches every dictate of a good read, a novel to be reread the minute you finish the last page.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
Passing Through is available for purchase on Amazon.com and your local bookseller.
According to Wikipedia “The Association for Mormon Letters (AML) is a nonprofit founded in 1976 to promote quality writing ‘by, for, and about Mormons.’ The broadness of this definition of Mormon literature has led the AML to focus on a wide variety of work that has sometimes been neglected in the Mormon community.”
I was surprised when I received an inquiry from AML about my novel, Land of the Saints, in which they offered to review the book. They did and you can read the review by going to
http://forums.mormonletters.org/yaf_postsm2663_DesJardins-Land-of-the-Saints-reviewed-by-DeWayne-Hafen.aspx#2663 or review is pasted below.
Let me know what you think.
Title: Land of the Saints
Author: Robert P. DesJardins
Year Published: 2011
Number of Pages: 397
ISBN: 978-1-4620-6275-1 (soft cover)
ISBN: 978-1-4620-6274-4 (hard cover)
ISBN: 978-1-4620-6273-7 (e-book)
Reviewed by DeWayne Hafen for the Association for Mormon Letters
This book is not a "faith promoting" novel. It portrays the Mormon church in a very negative manner. The author needed a villain and something of value to search for. The Mormon LDS church satisfied both needs, much as the Catholic church did for Dan Brown in his novel about the search for the Holy Grail. Mr. DesJardins tells us as much:
"When I set out to write this story born of my Arizona horse roundup experiences. the Mormon Church was to be but the back-story allowing my protagonist to search for the iconic Golden Plates in the manner of Robert Langdon of 'The Da Vinci Code' in pursuit of the secrets of the Holy Grail."
Having read and learned from Dan Brown's book, I hoped for something similar in this book. Having been born and raised in Utah I have been exposed to all kinds of "lost treasure" stories. Some people actually believe that the "lost plates" are buried a few miles from where I sit here in Fillmore, Utah. Others are convinced that a golden Jesus on the cross is in a cave close to Escalante, Utah where I spent my teen years. Not to forget all the gold in Johnson canyon or pond no. 3 near Kanab, or hidden in a cave in the Grand Canyon or a cave near Salina. Or maybe the Uintas or the West Desert. The stories go on and on. My hope was that this novel would pull some of that together and perhaps give some insight to all those stories. It didn't. It was a totally different sort of tale.
The author starts out with three premises: First, that Joseph Smith was "a treasure hunter and opportunist," "a demonic master," a cold blooded killer. Second, that the "golden plates" actually existed, except they were copper; that they were the record of a recent Indian tribe rather than an ancient record and that they were entrusted to Joseph's close associate and partner in crime just prior to his assassination at Carthage. This associate, fearing for his life, changed his name and carried the plates to Arizona to be hidden with the help of a mystic Indian Shaman. The third premise is that the Danites continue as an integral part of the church, looking and dressing much like Mormon missionaries sans the white shirt, tie, name-tag and bicycle. Instead, the travel in white pickups and employ the latest technology to spy, track and terrorize their victims. They are controlled by a "Bishop" styled after a Mafia don who rules the local temple with an iron hand. Sustaining these premises he manages to bring in the Mountain Meadows Massacre and places the blame squarely on Brigham Young and the Danite, Bishop John D. Lee. He actually dedicates the book "For the Mountain Meadows one hundred and twenty."
It took me a while to wrap my mind around these ideas. But then, Mormons and Danites make great villains. Historically the best examples of this are such books as Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage" and Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet." Zane Grey had one of his heroes say this about Mormons: "…thousands of dupes and dudes and their handful of unscrupulous leaders."
If you are LDS, this book requires some reader discretion.
Mr. DesJardins admits to knowing almost nothing of Mormonism and the book certainly demonstrates that: "As I researched the origin of the plates, I was astonished by my lack of knowledge of Mormon history and how I, as a relatively educated man, had been exposed to so little of the history of how Joseph Smith, a man of dubious moral character, was able to found such a religion."
It may be that he learned Mormon history from such books as Dr. W. Wyl's "Mormon Portraits" or perhaps "A Narrative of the Adventures and Experience of Joseph H Jackson in Nauvoo disclosing the Depths of Mormon Villainy" or John C. Bennett's "History of the Saints." Of course, there are also hundreds of anti-Mormon sites on the Internet.
But it is a novel and historical accuracy is not required. I am not expected to argue the pros and cons of his premises. So I read the book.
Surprisingly, I totally enjoyed the book once I got past my Mormon prejudices. I read it in two sittings. It was that good. Mr. DesJardins obviously is familiar with the locale and does a very good job of describing it in a such a manner that I can see the mountains, the roads, the lava beds and all the other scenery that make up that part of Arizona. The only problem was the very recognizable Utah picture on the cover. Didn't he ever read Arizona Highways? But then again, a picture of the towers and temples of the virgins of Zion may hold some deeper, esoteric meaning that I missed.
The level of intrigue is great. DesJardins, being an experienced lawyer, brings in a believable combination of murder, the workings of the law, and suspense. The characters seem real and I can readily visualize the satanic Bishop ordering the death of his son-in-law and even feel that the son-in-law had it coming.
An easy and interesting read that should captivate its readers. I have to give Robert D. DesJardins an A for his writing skills.
Put aside your Mormon view of the world and enjoy a look from the other side.
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