Serpent of Moses
Better than the first installment.
Three years after he and Espy almost lost their lives trying to find the bones of the prophet Elisha, Dr. Jack Hawthorne finds himself in another dangerous situation. He's gone off to find the Nehushtan: the brass serpent built by Moses to heal the Israelites of snakebites. What he finds is that he's not the only one looking for it. Agencies of certain governments are after this priceless artifact, and will not rest until they have it. Jack also has to deal with Martin Templeton, an Englishman who seems to have some personal interest in keeping an eye on Jack, with or without the staff.
This second Jack Hawthorne adventure was much improved over the first, Elisha's Bones. This one is not told in present tense, which won points right away. It also wasn't told in first person, which means we got to see into the thoughts of characters other than Jack Hawthorne, including the villains. In general, this one was just more enjoyable. Well-written characters, as before, and a well-woven plot made for a great story.
September 30, 2012
Gripping adventure, but no Indiana Jones.
In a quest to find the legendary brass snake that Moses set on a pole Ã¢ÂÂ the same snake that the Israelites could look up on in order to get healed from snake bites. Serpent of Moses assumes that the relic was not destroyed by Moses, making it one of the most profitable finds in the archaeology world. Esperanza, his long time girlfriend, ever waiting for Hawthorne to get serious, Romero, EsperanzaÃ¢ÂÂs brother and art dealer, and Jim Duckett, an ex-CIA agent and former colleague, will team up when Hawthorne has not shown up to an important business meeting after a few weeks. He is not the most punctual person in the world, but even he knows the limits regarding a crucial art deal. The truth is, Hawthorne has found the location of the once thought lost relic, but he is not alone in his search and is taken prisoner. Esperanza, Romero and Duckett will start a search of their own with the hope of finding Hawthorne alive; none of them could have ever imagined that they would be risking their lives.
Yes, this book is full of suspense, and as I mentioned in my previous reviews of HoeselÃ¢ÂÂs books, it should come with popcorn. He is certainly skilled at building up suspense and twisting the story right at the point where everything seemed solved. This makes it a gripping, interesting read, hard to put down. As usual, the ending comes a bit too fast, but it also leaves the reader with a curiosity to see what will happen next in the characterÃ¢ÂÂs lives. This adds to the positive aspects of this book, but I do have to say that there were moments where I felt I was reading a copy of other successes Ã¢ÂÂ namely Indiana Jones and Dan BrownÃ¢ÂÂs books. Both of these have been successful, which I guess would be a plus for Mr. Hoesel, but there is really nothing new under the sun. During the story, the team needs the assistance of people with whom Hawthorne has worked before, but it is not initially clear whether they like or dislike him; I could even picture Hawthorne with Harrison FordÃ¢ÂÂs look of uncertainty more than once, or even Robert LangdonÃ¢ÂÂs excitement when deciphering clues when Esperanza and Romero try to find the secret location of the serpent. Do not let this deter you from reading this book; if you are looking for clean entertainment during a rainy day, this would be a good choice. As I mentioned before, Hoesel is a skilled writer, but I would have preferred to not be reminded of other stories and get involved in this one on its own.
Also, there are numerous references to HawthorneÃ¢ÂÂs previous adventure in Australia; I presume that would be Ã¢ÂÂElishaÃ¢ÂÂs Bones,Ã¢ÂÂ which I have not read (and which I do not feel like reading after this book). At times, it was a bit distracting, because HawthorneÃ¢ÂÂs reputation is relevant in the outcome of this plot. The dots are connected in the last part of the book, so if you share my situation and are not familiar with HawthorneÃ¢ÂÂs past, just wait to get to the final chapters. It comes together, and Hoesel, once more, uses his resources wisely and manages to keep the reader on their toes to the last minute, right to the lousy ending. I personally have the sensation that this book could be much, much better, but it lacks authenticity, and the way the end is presented is a bad aftertaste that dilutes all the suspense.
Regarding Christian principles, God is mentioned here and there, but none of the characters actually practice a Christian life, a constant in HoeselÃ¢ÂÂs books. However, language is clean, making this book a good read for teenagers.
In short, Serpent of Moses is an archaeology adventure in search of a relic precious to different peoples who will not stop at anything to have it Ã¢ÂÂ just that.
Bethany Publishers provided a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. The opinion and thoughts in this review are my own and have not been biased by the latter.
September 14, 2012
Let me start by saying that Don Hoesel's previous novels have won high recommendations from me for their non-stop action, excellent plots, and Hoesel's strong command of the English language. I therefore approached "Serpent of Moses" with expectations that this book would live up to his previous works. In many ways it did, because the story features plenty of high-octane action scenes and interesting locales. However, for some reason I found much of the story to be somewhat plodding, and I finished the book not even quite clear on whether I liked Jack as a character. He definitely experiences growth during the story, coming to realize that his relationship with his partner is more important than the latest archaeological find or large financial reward. But his whole reason for going after the object in the first place is utterly without merit, and because of this the book lacked the sense of justice and rightness that would make me normally side with the main character and their mission. Jack simply didn't deserve to win anymore than anyone else in the story did. And despite the coolness factor of the artifact, its importance to Israel itself isn't fleshed out that strongly in my opinion.
The result is that I can only give this book a mild recommendation to readers who typically enjoy stories of action and suspense, and a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
September 8, 2012
A Fun Read for the Most Part
Hello! I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
This book was, for the most part, a fast paced read with interesting characters and a variety of locations. I enjoyed it, though at some parts it seemed a bit *too* fast paced, and in others too slow paced. I also found out after receiving the book that it's a sequel to a book I haven't read. The Bible does say that the serpent was destroyed, though the author tries to explain that, I still believe it was destroyed completely. Also, though Christianity was mentioned now and again, I wish the book contained more. The characters said they believed in God, etc... but a lot of them practiced non-Christian acts. There is no profanity involved.
The history found in the book was very interesting, though sometimes it seemed that they were telling you everything that was happening. I couldn't really get into the book at first, but the more I read, the more I was able to enjoy it. Some of the sarcasm inscribed made me smile, and now I find myself wanting to read the prequel. I loved Duckey, (a character you will meet) especially when he was evading the bad guys.
Overall, this was an exciting, fun read. It had a definite Indiana Jones touch to it, and lovers of those movies and other media like them will find this a worthy read. Also recommended to adventurers, aspiring archeologists, and any other teen-adult that needs something to read. **** Four stars.
September 3, 2012