Nov 13, 2012

Serpent of Moses, by Don Hoesel

In a quest to find the legendary brass snake that Moses set on a pole – 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, Esperanza’s 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 Hoesel’s 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 character’s 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 – namely Indiana Jones and Dan Brown’s 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 Ford’s look of uncertainty more than once, or even Robert Langdon’s 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 Hawthorne’s previous adventure in Australia; I presume that would be “Elisha’s Bones,” which I have not read (and which I do not feel like reading after this book).  At times, it was a bit distracting, because Hawthorne’s 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 Hawthorne’s 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 Hoesel’s 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 – 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.

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