REVIEWS + PRESS
In his book, Keats certainly shoots for formulaic genre fiction with all the signature elements: a dangerous archaeological quest, amoral competitors in search of a theologically significant prize, and the back story of a corrupt and conspiratorial Roman Catholic Church. Thankfully, Keats works within those stale parameters with considerable verve and charm, and his writing crackles with wry wit. Ellen’s academic mentor, Monsignor Brahaney, acerbically describes the professor: “Well, Parkinson was beyond ruthless, damn close to sociopathic, less interested in the research than what it brought him. Think Cromwell, Ellen, in tweed.” The author’s research is also extraordinarily deep and raises provocative questions about the meaning of Christianity independent of its institutional incarnation. Finally, Ellen turns out to be a companionable guide through the tale, both razor sharp and full of spunk. Anyone drawn to the genre can only hope a sequel adventure reprises the character.
An entertaining and thoughtful race to find a historical gem and a potentially world-changing truth.
J.B. Keats's He Can See Heaven is a welcome addition to the new literary interest in the hidden origins of Christianity. A modern tale of archaeological quest and discovery, it traces the winding search for the most secret of sacred texts, the Quelle, the original account of Jesus's life and teachings. Told from the point of view of Ellen, a young, present-day scholar, it follows her journey from the libraries of New York through Palestine and Spain to the Quelle's secret hiding place in Granada, where its revelation at tale's end has a revolutionary effect on the truth of Christianity as we know it. Rich in both the details of Ellen's personal and professional adventures, it also includes a panoramic evocation of the vast history of the late Roman Empire and the civilization of ancient Spain. Daunting, absorbing, affecting, it is a debut novel with a difference, learned, skillful, and yet intensely readable.
Professor of English
New York University
Our author states at the outset that this work, presumably his first, occurs at twilight. I hope not. He Can See Heaven is ablaze with action, intrigue, mystery, history, a dollop of sadness, and crisp, radiant prose. If not a sequel, hopefully Dr Keats will treat us with a second novel equally as entertaining. As to the story, we have all wondered, haven't we, if "the Bible" -- in this case, the New Testament, King James version -- really tells it like it was. Scholars who know of the parallel universe encompassing not only Christianity's but Muslim and Jewish treatment of the story of Jesus of Nazareth will be treated in this historical mosaic to a most compelling account of The Quelle, believed to be not so much the lost scrolls but the deliberately hidden and feared alternative account of much of Jesus' life. The heroine/protagonist is in hot pursuit, but others are as well. Both the spectacle and the sinister side of Granada, Spain serves as the backdrop. Read this book! You will be thoroughly entertained!
author of All the Angels and Saints
Keats masterfully weaves the record of early Christianity into this fast story of intrigue, suspense, and romance, bringing alive the key players of the early church and raising the timeless issues of belief and unbelief as the tale unfolds. The discovery of new and valid scriptures is imagined as not before, creating existential crises in his characters and leading the reader to imagine a new Christian world.
Reverend Mother Erin L. Betz Shank, Episcopal Priest
It's an intriguing and absorbing adventure around the globe to find the original scripture that is the foundation of the Christian faith. You can tell the book has been well-researched, yet it's not a dry read. Ellen Shea, a young scholar, searches for the original New Testament scripture on an often dangerous search through Europe, North Africa, and NYC. It kept my interest the whole time I read it, and would intrigue anyone who is interested in Biblical history.
Combining his passions: religion, history, and great writing, Keats penned the fast-paced new thriller He Can See Heaven: The Hierophant. It’s a fascinating and fast-paced adventure across multiple countries and cultures to find the original scripture that could change the future of faith. Keats researched the subject extensively and infuses that research throughout the book in a way that’s easy to digest for all readers.
J.B. Keats is a master storyteller whose ability to weave history and religion together is fascinating. . . This is a well-researched and entertainingly written book. The author provides an excellent appendix which authenticates both the primary story of Ellen’s journey (to locate the scrolls), and the journey of the scrolls (from ancient Anatolia through the Council at Nicaea, on to the medieval kingdoms of the Visigoths, Moors and Spaniards). Ending the story in the future (in 2018) and unexpectedly (don’t even try to guess!) is a clever ploy that makes the reader want to reread the book to discover clues-along-the-way leading to the conclusion that were missed. Well done, J.B.Keats.
Keats writes eloquently; it’s obvious that he is a skilled writer, but he doesn’t use extra verbiage or extravagant language to ensure that this is known. He is the type of author that is able to make writing an entire book like this seem fairly easy, and that in itself is a feat. The novel doesn’t lose momentum after the thrilling first few chapters, either. If anything, it quickens the pace at some points, and there were times I found myself unable to put it down (problematic as I often read this while taking the subway to and from work.)
Exceptional, entertaining, and a terrific page-turner of a novel from beginning to end, "He Can See Heaven: The Hierophant" showcases author J. B. Keats as an impressively skillful writer and storyteller.