Daily Archives: March 16, 2008

Suspense-Thriller Challenge

January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2009

J.Kaye is hosting this one – and although I feel stupid joining yet another challenge after admitting I’m already in over my head… I decided to do this because I have a towering stack of books in this genre which have sat on my TBR shelf for years. This seems like a good way for me to make a dent in the stacks. The challenge rules are to read a total of 12 different sub-categories in the suspense-thriller genre (J. Kaye gives a huge list of these sub-categories on the challenge blog). I have two whole years to read 12 books. Piece of cake, right?

Books Read

(with date completed, rating and link to review)

  1. The Secret Scroll, by Ronald CutlerReligious Thriller (Completed March 16, 2008; rated 2/5; read my review)
  2. The Tenderness of Wolves, by Stef PenneyHistorical Thriller (Completed April 5, 2008; rated 5/5; read my review)
  3. Takeover, by Lisa BlackCrime Thriller (Completed June 8, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
  4. Down River, by John HartPsychological Thriller (Completed June 29, 2008; rated 4.5/5; read my review)
  5. The Map Thief, by Heather TerrellConspiracy Thriller (Completed August 9, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
  6. The Brass Verdict, by Michael ConnellyLegal Thriller (Completed October 17, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
  7. Breathing Out the Ghost, by Kirk CurnuttNoir Thriller (Completed January 11, 2009; rated 4.5/5; read my review)
  8. Bleeding Heart Square, by Andrew TaylorMurder Mystery/Whodunnit (Completed March 11, 2009; rated 4/5; read my review)
  9. Christine Falls, by Benjamin BlackLiterary Thriller (Completed May 6, 2009, rated 4.5/5; read my review)
  10. In the Woods, by Tana FrenchPolice Procedural Thriller (Completed May 22, 2009; rated 4/5; read my review)
  11. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, by Kate SummerscaleTrue Crime Thriller (Completed June 7, 2009; rated 4.5/5; read my review)
  12. Malice, by Lisa JacksonErotic Thriller (Completed June 8, 2009; rated 3/5; read my review)

The Secret Scroll – Book Review

secretscroll.jpg Israel as a whole was an archaeological mother lode, but the area around Jerusalem was particularly rich, and particularly complex. Home to some of the holiest sites in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it was rich with history and rife with conflict. -From The Secret Scroll, page 31-

Josh Cohan, an American archaeologist on sabbatical in Israel discovers a centuries old scroll possibly authored by Jesus. After reporting his find to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, a number of strange happenings occur which soon indicate Josh’s life and the lives of those around him are in peril. Josh joins a team of archaeologists in translating the ancient scroll before it can be stolen by a fanatical religious sect called The Guardians.  Along the way, Josh uncovers a special healing gift within himself as well as romance.

The Secret Scroll is author Ronald Cutler’s first novel. Set amid the history of Israel and full of historical references to Christianity and the Palestinian conflict, it is evident that Cutler did his research. The story idea is an intriguing one: the discovery of a relic which could change the way the world views Christianity.

Despite these strengths, the novel stumbles on several levels including cliche characters, too much telling rather than showing the action, lack of tension and a disappointing predictability. The Secret Scroll is a religious suspense-thriller which lacks the suspense. Josh and his love interest, the beautiful Danielle, fail to engage the reader on much more than a superficial level; and there is almost no development of their relationship, so that when the inevitable love scene occurs, it misses its mark.

Ronald Cutler was an award winning radio personality for much of his career before penning The Secret Scroll (released in early February 2008 through Beaufort Books). He has a website dedicated to the novel which includes author background, as well as additional information about the book.

I am appreciative to the publisher for sending me a copy of The Secret Scroll for review. Unfortunately, it is not a book I can recommend. Rated 2/5.

Sunday Salon – March 16, 2008

Sunday Salon

March 16, 2008

9:00 AM

Winter showed its stormy face yesterday with a mixture of hail, thunder and lightening, and a couple of inches of wet snow. This morning the sun is out and the snow is melting. March is like this – it can’t seem to make up its mind whether to be spring or winter.

Given the unsettled weather yesterday, I was happy to find my latest edition of World Literature Today in my mailbox. The March-April issue is all about globalization and its impact on literature – a fascinating subject. The editor of WLT – David Clark – notes:

Within the past decade, especially, we have witnessed the emergence of greater numbers of transnational authors who were born, say, in one country, educated in another, and currently reside in yet a third. Many speak and/or write in more than one language.

I was especially interested to read the article titled: Migration, Globalization, and Recent African Literature, by Tanure Ojaide. Ojaide compares the older African writers who are living in the West and steep their writing in folklore with heroic and nostalgic references to older times, with that of the post-1960 born Africans (such as Chris Abani and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) who focus on themes more critical to African history and are often violent. The article references work by Uzodinma Iweala, as well as Abani and Adichie. Ojaide concludes:

By virtue of living outside their African homeland and in the West in an age of globalization, there are changes in subject matter, themes, style, and form in the various genres in which the writers engage themselves.

When I decided to read the world, I thought it would be easy to categorize books by geographic area by simply noting where the author lived. But globalization made me rework my categories and expand my definition of a work. I try to pick literature which represents the country – either by the author’s nationality, or by setting. How do you classify a work geographically?

In other reading “news” I finished reading both The Gathering (see my review) and The Story of Forgetting (see my review) this past week. Both astonishing novels which I can recommend. Feeling like I needed a change of pace, I am now reading a publisher’s copy of The Secret Scroll, by Ronald Cutler. It is a religious suspense-thriller set in Israel and I’m about half way through it. I’m afraid I have a tendency to compare the writing of Cutler to a brilliant, award-winning author like Enright…and Cutler loses the “competition” hands down. But, as a work of genre fiction, it is okay. I should finish it this afternoon.