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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Thomas Edward Garrett III is a disgruntled, though relatively successful, antiques dealer based in Charleston, South Carolina, operating his established business from his large family home at 13 Church Street. He is a respected businessman; financially he is comfortable rather than rich, and enjoys a close relationship with the senator’s daughter, an attractive, vivacious woman who, in addition to attending to his emotional needs, also helps promote his business. He feels isolated, however, excluded from the established Charleston society which forms the majority of his client base. He is resentful of the fact that, as he is the first generation to grow up in the town, he is seen as a newcomer and he longs for the recognition and approbation of his peers.
Ill-Gotten Gain by Ralph E. Jarrells chronicles his chance discovery of a precious hoard hidden in a disused chamber of his old house, and how the find brings almost instant fame and a fortune running into hundreds of millions of dollars, but also how a small, inconspicuous box, part of the find, brings about much more sinister changes with representatives of the Pope and Opus Dei arriving at his door. With terrifying dreams and vested interests shattering his confidence, hounded by the media, and with all those around him displaying a competence and confidence he cannot match, is it possible for Thomas Edward Garrett III to survive the physical and mental storm that has engulfed him?
Ill-Gotten Gain by Ralph E. Jarrells explores an intriguing idea – what happened to the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Jesus Christ? Written in an intricately detailed style, the character, life and thought processes of each of the central players of the piece are laid bare as the narrative proceeds at an unhurried, deliberate pace. Personally, I found it difficult to feel sympathy for our hero as he seemed to be the architect of his own misfortunes, but behind it all there was a feeling that the contents of a small stone box could have had a great deal of influence over his reasoning. In his first novel Mr Jarrells has chosen a truly original theme to launch his career as an author, producing a complex, multi-layered plot of surprising quality. Excellent work from a new author who is sure to find further success in the field.