The cover of Temple Boys is reminiscent of the Horrible Histories series and belies the challenging read within. Jamie Buxton has written an entertaining and thought-provoking interpretation of the Crucifixion story with Flea, an orphaned and opinionated beggar boy at its heart.
Clues are cleverly seeded in the early chapters, enabling able readers to identify the central character and His fate. Flea, his tenuous links with his gang, the Temple Boys, broken after they expel him is drawn to Jeshua and his oldest friend, Jude. This unwittingly places him at the very centre of the action and, consequently, at the heart of the corruption and political machinations which underpin the city.
Through Flea, the reader sees the simple humanity of the story and when he pleads in vain with the disciples to prevent Yeshua from accepting death his bewilderment and anger become our own. His grief at Judas’ suicide stems from his knowledge that he, too, tried to dissuade Jeshua, to restore their lifelong friendship and their hitherto simple existence.
The narrative is dense with tension and adventure and characters are convincingly drawn – the Temple Boys, Yeshua, the sinister Results Man and Flea himself are particularly skilful creations. Most importantly, Buxton has woven into the rollercoaster action and the high drama the complexities of the Resurrection – and this is arguably the most accomplished part of the narrative. Expectations of its aftermath are elucidated – and misinterpreted by those who seek to use its power for their own ends. Buxton makes it clear that the promised changes must come from within and, to this end, gives Flea the confidence and peace of mind to begin again, with a trusted companion and so far away from the all-pervading misery of the city that there is real hope that his venture will succeed.
This is a superb book which will entertain and inform – but, most of all, will spur its readers to think: not just about this familiar Easter story but about their own lives and how they might be lived. Buxton has made a Christian story universal.