Regional Reports from across Louisiana
(page 4 of 5)
BATON ROUGE/ PLANTATION COUNTRY
Judas the Apostle
It briefly begins at Masada in a blood-red sunset. While Romans batter the wall, about to gain entrance, Elazar ben Yair, the last man alive, falls upon his own sword amid the many bodies of those who chose to die free and untouched by Rome. In what proved to be a hard-to-put-down page-turner, Judas the Apostle, written by Baton Rouge resident and attorney Van R. Mayhall Jr., neatly transitions the story to present-day Louisiana when Dr. Clotile Lejeune, an ancient language expert, returns home to Madisonville with her son because of the murder of her elderly father. It becomes apparent to everyone that Thibodeaux Lejeune was murdered because of an ancient oil jar inscribed with Judas Iscariot’s name that he found in an underground cavern fighting the African campaign in World War II. For Clotile, estranged from her father and her Louisiana roots for years because of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, the return to Louisiana opens old wounds she tried to bury. As she begins to unravel the mystery of her father’s murder, she likewise begins to suspect with good reason the oil jar may be a religious relic important enough to shatter Christian beliefs. Unbeknownst to all, on the other side of the world, an evil billionaire who deals in arms is leaving a scorched earth pathway strewn with corpses as he searches for the oil jar bearing Judas Iscariot’s name, aided by his own empty-eyed goon squad.
Mayhall has spun a highly original, suspenseful and atmospheric thriller. It’s a savvy story of academia, archaeology and theology, but you can also taste the warm Louisiana thread that runs through it like a good flavor – the Tchefuncte River, the LSU campus, the elements of close family ties and the influence of religion. The story also takes place in present-day Jerusalem and France. Exploring the true motives of Judas Iscariot, it leaves you with a perhaps controversial but plausible impression of the betrayer of Christ – but not in the same almost sacrilegious sense of The Da Vinci Code. The story weaves a mystical spell in the timeless story of good against evil that’s hard to resist; Judas the Apostle joins my personal rank of books that I call one-sitting reads.
Mayhall, a Louisiana native, has done extensive research on Judas Iscariot, exploring loose ends and inconsistencies.
“The book examines controversial claims involving Judas Iscariot,” Mayhall says. “But more than that, I wanted people to think about the Bible, its meaning and the battle between good and evil.” Mayhall claims he wrote the book as a thriller that also celebrated Louisiana’s culture.
“The book is about the main character’s rediscovery of family roots and the importance of her Louisiana upbringing and faith,” Mayhall says.
Published by iUniverse, Judas the Apostle has been featured in the Barnes & Noble Rising Star Special Collection.
Mayhall is a senior partner in a Baton Rouge law firm. A Baton Rouge native, he attended both LSU and Georgetown University.
If you’d like to know more about this highly readable book, visit www.vanrmayhalljr.com.