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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 Set amid the history of Israel and full of historical references to Christianity and the Palestinian conflict, it is evident that Cutler did his research.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.

8 Comments

  1. March 16, 2008    

    A fair review – not an easy task! Good job!

  2. March 16, 2008    

    Thnaks, Jill 🙂

  3. March 17, 2008    

    Isn’t this similar to what happens in one of Kathy Reichs books? It’s always hard to be fair about a book one doesn’t like. You’ve done a good job.

  4. March 17, 2008    

    There is a similar plot in one of the Reich’s books (although I can’t remember now which one it was!).

  5. July 27, 2008    

    Wendy — Thanks for this and the other review you did on books you didn’t much like. You’ve done well setting forth the shortcomings of these books which is so helpful to those of us who want to be fair yet accurate in how we perceive the books we read and the ultimate reviews we write.

    Good job!

  6. July 27, 2008    

    Thanks, Jan – these are always hard to write. I don’t want to be overly harsh, and yet I believe I have a responsibility to my readers who trust my reviews; so I am always honest, even if it is tough to be so.

  7. July 28, 2008    

    The secret scroll

    This is my (partial) review of this book.
    I read it back in April.

    While I did enjoy this book and read it within 24 hours, I feel that I have to be honest. There is nothing unusual in this novel….Lots of people dream about finding the one scroll that proves Jesus WAS alive and that he DID perform miracles and that he WAS the Son of God. Noone has ever found such a scroll for real in the last 2000 years, so I doubt that anyone ever will find such a scroll.

    I actually prefer novels set in Israel that have a different angle on them. Novels like The Samson Effect. That was a totally different and unexpected angle, and those are the sort of books I prefer.

  8. July 28, 2008    

    Very nice review, Historia! Sounds like you appreciated it a bit more than I did 🙂

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