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Apocrypha

by Tyler Ferguson
378 pages, Contemporary
Reviewed by Kristi

Improbable plot and ill carried out.

Plot

A land surveyor and his two friends go on a hunt for lost writings of Mohammad.

Morality

The good guys mostly act like good guys and the bad guys pretty much act like fiends, with the exception of the primary villain Hasid, who actually finds himself caught in a fairly interesting moral dilemma. There's an ugly faction in the Catholic church whose motives are hard to understand. Good and bad guys bribe foreign officials.

Spiritual Content

There seems to be some blurring of the lines between the beliefs of Islam and Christianity, with the words "God" and "Allah" being used almost interchangeably. This may be simply a language issue in the Middle East. One character doesn't bother to tell his friends he's a believer till the end of the book, though they've been struggling with their salvation decision through the whole story, something I found abominable.

Violence

There's a lot of shooting and bloodshed. A graphic torture scene takes place near the start of the book, in which two Mosad agents commit suicide rather than divulge information to terrorists. There is fist and knife fighting, and quite a few violent threats.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Adults drink wine brewed by monks in Ethiopia, as well as drinks elsewhere. Samuel seems to spend a lot of time in bars, though we don't see it much during the actual story.

Sexual Content

Multiple wives are mentioned as part of the Islamic belief system. Solomon's multiple wives and concubines are mentioned. The terrorist general seems to have a woman in his room every time one of his underlings arrives unannounced, and his activities are discussed by others. One of the bad guys is interrupted in a brothel. Some of the bad guys also refer to "having fun" with one of the female characters when they catch her. A woman goes with a man to his room. A man and woman are found dead in a compromising position in a hotel room. A woman is referred to as dressing like a "whore" if she does not wear appropriate female garb in Egypt. On the good guys' side there are a few kisses.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

The plot is improbable, and what the three heroes are likely to find is pretty transparent from the start. There are some good moments, but that's largely ruined by the fact that the author hasn't got a very good grasp on grammar and punctuation. He confuses "to" with "too", "counsel" with both "council" and "console", misplaces commas, and inserts apostrophes into random plural words. One of his character's name keeps changing from "Vasillius" to "Vassillus". Julia's hair changes color from red to gold and back. As near as I can tell, this book was self-published and no one ever bothered to edit it.

Additional Complaints:

Every person the heroes meet on their quest who isn't shooting at them turns out to be a believer who just has a gut feeling he should help them, and also give them cars and loads of money with no collateral.

The author subjects us to some pretty poor poetry. Our hero translates several poems from ancient languages for his friends, and they just happen to rhyme when he translates them into English on the spot, but they don't rhyme all that well.

The ending was extremely unsatisfying. Despite the far-fetched nature of the basic plot, I hoped for an interesting resolution for our conflicted villain. The author almost pulls it off too, with a really great moment near the end...and then it all falls apart.

In conclusion, the poor quality of the editing, the multitude of improbable coincidences, and the lack of decent resolution of several key plot points means this book is going out at my next garage sale. There are many books on biblical archaeology that are much better reads, 'Rift in Time' by Michael Phillips and 'A Skeleton in God's Closet' by Paul L. Maier being two of them.

Fun Score: 2.5
Values Score: 2
Written for Age: adult

Review Rating:

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