Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: The Moses Stone by James Becker

The Moses Stone
by James Becker
2010 Onyx Books
476 Pages
Softcover Edition
Genre: Thriller

4/5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)

In Morocco, an English couple discovers a clay tablet covered in ancient writing. One day later, they are dead.
And the hunt for a priceless relic is on...
Called to North Africa to investigate, Detective Chris Bronson follows a trail of clues that leads him from the hustle of a Moroccan market to the deserted caves of Qumran; from the sinister echoes of a water-filled tunnel under the city of Jerusalem to a windswept fortress whose name spells death.

Threatened on every side by ruthless men with their own agendas, Bronson is plunged into a mystery that has gone unsolved since biblical times. For the stone he must find is older and far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

My Thoughts
The book is an entertaining
, fast-paced read with many plot twists and turns. I found that even though the plot moved quickly, it was easy to understand, the characters' motives easily comprehensible to the reader. While it does have its moments of violence, and they are very clearly detailed and explained, this does not deter from the novel as they are few and far between. I really enjoy mystery and suspense, but I am not one for a lot of violence and big explanations on how people are killed; I can do without all the gory details.

I really enjoyed the historical aspect to this novel. As my family already knows, toss the following words around, 'quest', 'treasure', 'historical', 'Biblical', long lost', 'clues', and 'maps' and you've got one hooked reader. I loved learning about all the history and the explanations about all of the different places that Angela and Chris visited. Any history buff would enjoy this aspect of the novel.

I did feel that some of the elements were just too coincidental as to be entirely believable however. That Chris would be chosen to investigate a death in Morocco didn't quite ring true, especially one that was not suspicious in nature until he went to Morocco. I'm not entirely sure what the intricacies are from one nation to another, but I would be surprised if one could just walk in and interfere with another country's police investigation unless there was good reason to do so. Involving Angela in the investigation was also tricky as she was family, even though she is Chris' ex. She was also not an expert in the field of archaology they were researching, so I'm also pretty sure that she would not have been cleared officially to work on this case. When Chris and Angela started sneaking around and stealing items, it was so much more believable. I wondered at times if the author thought the reader would just gloss over these elements and see them as unimportant, or if he thought we really wouldn't know how the judicial system worked so it wouldn't matter.

I was also concerned over how quickly Angela and Chris were able to decipher clues that hadn't been deciphered in years. Becker himself mentions in the novel that it sometimes takes a team of archaeologists years to translate ancient scrolls discovered in the past, yet these two, and the enemies following them, managed to do in days, what archaeologists couldn't do in years. Too coincidental for me!

One of the things I would
like to see in future books is more of a development in the personal relationship between Angela and Chris. I felt like their characters and relationship were unfinished or untouched in order to focus more on the storyline, and I would like to see as much emphasis on growth and development of the characters as on the plot.

In summary, if you love historical and Biblical references mixed in with suspense and mystery, then you will enjoy this novel. It is fun, enjoyable, fast-paced, with enough twists to keep you interested until the last chapter as long as you are able to keep an open mind.

Note: The author includes a fascinating Author's Note that describes many of the places and events Chris and Angela visited throughout the novel. It really emphasizes the amount of research the author has done for this novel.


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