Expected publication: August 2nd 2011 by Howard Books.
I remember receiving this in the mail and getting all excited. It’s a thick book, 479 ARC pages, in a genre that I really like. I am a fan of Dan Brown‘s books, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code especially. I like that whole conspiracy theory angle to historical fact. I fully know that the book is FICTION but it makes me wonder. It is fascinating to me how these authors could think of how to weave in the fact with fiction and stay accurate. I love books that make me stop and think.
This one was no different. The Second Messiah by Irish author Glenn Meade centers around the Dead Sea Scrolls. Twenty years ago, Jack Cane lost his parents to a traffic accident after their dig unearthed Dead Sea Scrolls about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Now an archeologist himself, Cane finds another scroll and it proves to contain valuable yet controversial information that could shake the very foundations of Catholic faith. Meanwhile in Rome, a new pope is elected. Events from twenty years ago, while he was but a lowly priest, could come back and haunt him.
What is so important about this scroll that it not only endangers the lives of Cane and his friends but also has the Vatican up in arms? The evidence of a “second Messiah”.
The first thing that you will notice upon starting this book is the short chapter breaks. Some are a mere three-fourths of the page. It made the book very fast paced, which I liked. However, towards the end, it became choppy and it got a little tiring. Each chapter is packed with action, the shortness of it did not do it any favors. It was like hitting the ground running only to crash against a brick wall a few steps in. And most of them ended in cliffhangers that saw their continuation a couple of chapters over. The frustration served to make me want to flip through the book faster. I also did not like the ending very much. It had too much build up from the preceding chapters that the ending fell short of expectation. And the Buddy angle came out of nowhere. Okay, maybe there were hints of it but it got buried in all the other chapters. After all, there are 142 of them.
I did like the author’s style of writing. Very clear and his descriptions were helpful. I knew of the Dead Sea Scrolls but this is the first time that I’ve read about the issue of dual Messiahs. It did not go into deep like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code but just enough to raise interest. (Although I would have liked it more if the author did go all conspiracy theory on the reader.) A chapter or two reminded me of a scene from The Da Vinci Code where Sir Teabing was illustrating the Last Supper conspiracy to Sophie and Robert. It was almost exactly like that, down to the movement impaired educator and the eventual ambush.
I already mentioned that I liked the pace of the book. There were no dull moments. Even the parts with the priests were intriguing. I liked them very much. To me, the priests were the best written characters in the books. They were sinister, mysterious, and all of that good stuff. I thought the character of Jack Cane was underdeveloped. In fact, I gathered more about Yasmin than the two lead characters, which in a way was problematic. Actually, the villains had more information about them. By the end of the book, I didn’t know much about Cane apart from his parents dying. Same with Lela.
The whole thing was full of double crossing and lies and backstabbing. It ran around a lot, one party following another. The scroll had an effect on all of them. But… it never really said or proved anything. Sure, it hinted of a “false Jesus” a couple of times in translations and explanations but that was it. I guess I was looking for a more in-depth discussion about the scrolls, maybe? It could have pushed a little bit more. It certainly had the potential; dealing with controversial topics. The book certainly could have used more of that and less of the cat-and-mouse chase filler.
Recommendation: Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. I loved those books and this one is right up that alley. (I know I mentioned his books more than twice in the review.) Also of Steve Berry and James Rollins books.
Get your copy here.