Thursday, May 1, 2008

Jenn's Review: The Secret Scroll


Josh Cohan, a work-obsessed archaeology professor, has a recurring dream about a great secret. He follows his instincts to the Judean desert, where he makes a fantastic discovery an ancient scroll which seems to have been written by Jesus Christ. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has a claim on the scroll, but another, more sinister organization wants the scroll as well. The Guardians, members of an ancient extremist religious sect, are willing to kill to get what they want.

Josh joins the government-sponsored team of translators who believe the scroll might be genuine, and falls in love with Danielle, the fiery daughter of one of the translators. When a friend turns up dead and Danielle goes missing, Josh realizes that the scroll might be more powerful and controversial than he had ever imagined. Will Josh be able to prevent something terrible from happening to the woman he loves without giving up the most important discovery mankind has ever made?

Review: For readers who find writers Dan Brown and Kathy Reichs too heavy, this just might be the novel for you. A little history, a little mysticism, a little intrigue, a little romance, a little religion The Secret Scroll covers it all. While I do think that this was a good first novel for the author, I also think perhaps he tried to be too many things to too many people. I felt as if he had a solid idea that ran away from him a little. Perhaps if he had sacrificed the mysticism or the romance a little, he might have been able to develop the characters more fully. There were several plot twists that seemed a little farfetched and some shifts in focus that seemed forced – especially the misdirection applied in the case of the antagonist. That was actually what led me to figure out the villain. I was disappointed when I pegged the antagonist two-thirds of the way through the novel, and kicking myself for not spotting it earlier.

While the last book I read for the blog seemed to be without a moral, there was an abundance of message thrust forth in this novel from religious tolerance to violence in the name of religion – all very pertinent themes in today’s society. I felt the resolution of this social conflict was slightly superficial.

Lastly, I was a little exasperated by the editing in the book. I am no great speller but even I noticed the shifting back and forth from the older spelling of Moslem to the newer Muslim with no real rhyme or reason. I also realize that some writers take literary license and use de-structured sentences for effect. However, when I find myself concentrating on their sentence structure instead of their story, I have to deem the literary device as being unsuccessful.

All in all, this is an interesting first novel. I would like to see where Ronald Cutler goes from here.

Final take 3.8/5.0


Josette said...

I agree that The Secret Scroll was indeed a good first novel. Cutler did about 2 whole years' of research for the book and I only finished reading it in days! Imagine that!

To me, this book is like a mixture of Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code. It's still an interesting read, though.

Julie P. said...

Here's a link to my review:

Julie P. said...
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