Crown of the Nazarene: A Carmela Buenasuerte Case
Jesse Edward Corralez
The Crown is the third installment in the Carmela Buenasuerte mystery series by Jesse Edward Corralez. In this book, Carmela and friends are called on to find an ancient relic the Vatican wishes to preserve for all of humankind regardless of religious affiliation. But the item’s elusiveness suggests that its purpose does not include being housed in a museum.
Archbishop Nicolas Rand, head of the Holy Antiquities Museum, is called on by the pope to authenticate a relic that is believed to be the crown of thorns that was worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. The archbishop is given the directive to go to a museum in Switzerland and negotiate the purchase of the crown from the curator if he determines that it is the real thing. Money is no obstacle.
Once in Switzerland, the archbishop is shown pictures of the thorny wreath that a former visitor to the Switzerland museum sent to the curator. The archbishop and the curator travel to Portland, Oregon, to authenticate the wreath. When they arrive, they are informed that the wreath was taken during a robbery of the owner’s condo. Enter Carmela Buenasuerte, the crack private investigator who solved the curbside recycling and warehouse robbery mysteries. When her husband, police officer Shawn Sparrow, takes on the case of the stolen wreath with few results, Carmela’s services are retained.
As the couple begins to acquire bits of information about the location of the wreath, first at a pawnshop and then across the country in New York City, they recruit their friends Abraham Joseph Dooley and Gideon Nathan Blaze, owners of a special security and transport business, to help with the search. The jaunt to New York to recover the wreath from a couple who’d been visiting Portland leads the group all over the globe including Italy, Israel, Syria, and Iraq. With each attempt to retrieve the wreath, the foursome encounters people who have experienced a miracle after coming in contact with the crown: a child blind from birth can suddenly see and recognize her surroundings; a woman disfigured and crippled in a car accident as a child becomes beautiful and all her physical deformities are corrected; and a man who was positive for AIDS shows absolutely no signs of the disease after coming in contact with the wreath.
Corralez achieves in this book what he does best as a writer: the combination of action with a focus on human behavior—the good and the bad—to weave a tale that not only entertains, but feeds the spirit. While the search for the crown of thorns is endless, one can determine that the wreath is not supposed to be found and possessed by one person or institution. The crown appears to belong to everyone, and as a result, it should be free to circulate among the masses.
Crown of the Nazarene is a strong addition to the Carmela Buenasuerte series. I highly recommend it.
Independent Professional Book Reviewers