The best book for those long winter nights, Ralph E Jarrells’ Ill Gotten Gain is a blend of religious and historical mystery, perfectly constructed to communicate a sense of fear and uncertainty. When a Charleston antiques dealer discovers an ancient relic, he is tempted to believe it’s a find that is of immeasurable value and that can bring him recognition and acceptance—it’s a box that holds the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas when he betrayed Christ. But this isn’t a precious find, because from this moment on, the antiques dealer will dream of nothing but the deaths of those who have possessed the box before him, starting with Judas, and he also dreams of his own death. He is anxious to auction off the relic, but can he be saved by getting rid of the cursed coins?
Ralph E Jarrells brings to life one of the oft-forgotten pieces of religious teachings and history, the destiny of the man who sold his master for thirty pieces of silver and what became of the coins. The reader encounters well-crafted and compelling characters, including the curator of the Vatican Museum and library, and an enigmatic member of the Opus Dei. Ill Gotten Gain is a story that will have great appeal for a diverse audience and it will sit well with fans of horror as well as those who adore mysteries. The writing is top-notch and readers can’t help but feel emotionally and psychologically involved in the narrative. I enjoyed the originality of this story, one of the best I have read in the genre.