Follow me:
Some stories are irresistible.  A lowly born boy who takes on an Empire, wins souls and dies a noble death. It’s got love, drama, pathos. No wonder the story of Jesus is catnip to fiction writers.

The Tongues of Men and Angels by Jonathan Trigell (Corsair, £16.99) is a bold, if flawed, addition to the cannon. It is set after the crucifixion, and Christ himself is a charismatic chimera around whom others construct lore and laws.

The soul of the early church becomes a battle-ground. On one side are the disciples, led by Jesus’ brother James. On the other is St Paul of Tarsus, whose claim to have witnessed the risen Christ allows him to pursue his vision of the church.

Trigell’s version is ingenious and riveting. He is brilliant in his recreation of the visceral baseness of being human; this is a Judea mired in dung and blood and superstition. But Trigell plays God a little too easily: loose ends are tied with a trite neatness. The omniscient narrator tells the future and lapses into lectures. These tricks are permissible in a book which contemplates the power and trickery of human storytelling; but they can jar. This is a rare book; one with flaws as fascinating and thought-provoking as its many triumphs.