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James Frey became the bad boy of the American literary establishment when it emerged sections of his best-selling 2003 debut "memoir", A Million Little Pieces, were fabricated.

His latest book, a fictional tale of how Jesus Christ would live in the 21st century, will do little to appease his critics.

Frey's forthcoming novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, will explore the Second Coming in the form of "Ben Jones", the Messiah, who smokes marijuana and has sex with prostitutes. Frey has teamed up with billionaire US art dealer Larry Gagosian to distribute the work, to be released on Good Friday, April 22.

Frey has said previously the book was his "idea of what the Messiah would be like if he were walking the streets of New York today".

Ben Jones' tale is told through the stories of his friends, family, and followers, and explores what it means to be Christian in present-day society.

The books will be packaged in leather cases with a cover image by Gregory Crewdson, a US photographer who specialises in surreal images. They will be sold via the New York galleries, online, and in digital versions for the iPad and e-books.

"It's supposed to be a theoretical third volume of the Bible," Frey told the New York Post. "There was the Old, there was the New, and this is the Final." He added: "I'm sure the religious right will go crazy because of the story of Ben."

Frey's debut, which explored the writer's battle with alcohol and drugs, sold eight million copies.

After its release, however, it emerged the author had embellished some details, such as the fact he only spent a few hours in police custody rather than three months in jail. Frey's last controversy came in November, when an article appeared in New York magazine about the author's Full Fathom Five, a company focusing on producing young-adult novels co-written by a team of aspiring writers. The magazine described the contracts offered to writers as "brutal".

- INDEPENDENT