You don't have to have read the first book, to enjoy this, as it is a standalone story and the author does an exceptional job at dropping little gems into the story to explain the backstory from the first book. That having been said, I would still recommend reading the Lazarus Succession first, if for no other reason than it is a superb story, by the incomparable Ken Fry. When it comes to religious icons and fantastical religious conspiracy theories, I have found none better in the genre than Fry. What makes this author stand out more than most is his innate ability to make the reader believe the unbelievable and the mystical. By the end of the book, nothing surprises you, as a reader, and you just accept the fantastic, as being merely normal and expected. This is the mark of a superb author and Ken Fry is one of those.
In this story, our heroes from the first book, Brodie and Ulla are still present, but the mantle is picked up by their daughter, Martha. The healing Lazarus painting has resided for many years now in a Monastery in Spain, guarded by Abbot Louis and Brodie himself, as Brother Baez. The legend of the powers of the painting has resurfaced though and this time, two unscrupulous rogues are determined to get their hands on it. One, Silas Shepherd, a typical American Super Church pastor has dreams of immense power and immense wealth when he has this miraculous religious icon in his hands and he controls the greatest church in the world, that he will found, The Church of the Lazacrucians. The other, a ruthless, casino owner, billionaire, John D Bower, who dreams of the immense wealth the painting can bring him. They will join forces to hunt down the Lazarus painting and it will be all hands on deck for those that must protect it from the usurpers.
As always, in Fry's novels, the action is fast-paced and exciting. I read the book, essentially in one sitting and cliched as it may be, I found it impossible to put it down. The Lazarus Continuum just adds to the already magnificent body of work in the area of religious conspiracy theories by this author. I, for one, wait with bated breath to see what his next contribution will be. Fry is an author par excellence and right at the top of the "Indie Author Tree" in my opinion. This is not to be missed - a "must read".