In Juan Gomez-Jurado's "The Moses Expedition, what begins as a compelling mystery regarding a Nazi, a Jewish orphan and a priceless map hidden within a gold heirloom candle quickly becomes a mediocre adventure tale that attempts to rival the archaeological suspense of Indiana Jones Trilogy: Raiders of the Lost Ark; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom & Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (SET OF 3 VHS) while injecting the action with 21st century threats and conspiracies by Jihadist terrorists, Vatican secret service, a reclusive billionaire, CIA operatives, inquiring reporters and military fanatics.
Gomez-Jurado peppers his main plotline--the expedition to uncover the Biblical Ark of the Covenant--with the fascinating albeit sentimental background tale of billionaire Raymond Kayn--the man with the money funding the trip. While this portion of the story works well, unfortunately the interplay between recurring characters (God's Spy) Father Anthony Fowler and down-on-her-luck reporter Andrea Otero somehow doesn't. Neither character gets to show any detailed facet of personality--Fowler as the dark horse Vatican agent masterfully succeeds at whatever he sets out to do while Otero manages only to grate on the reader's nerves with her two-dimensional need to lick her romantic wounds and get her story ersatz-Hildy Johnson-style(His Girl Friday). Both these characters could be worthy of further episodic offerings where their true nature is brought slowly to light. It would benefit Gomez-Juarado to limit their flippant interplay (think Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood) that somehow loses something in the Spanish to English translation. Instead of the campy stereotypes utilized in Spielberg's masterpieces, the character of Fowler should be taken seriously and if he is to be viewed with gravitas Gomez-Jurado must spend more time cultivating flashbacks and memories that will intrigue, present a piece of the puzzle one bit at a time and thereby forcing his reader to suspend disbelief at the cliffhanger and clamor for more and more. Gomez-Jurado paints the present Fowler in tones of the sinister fantastic; is he meant to be Ortero's foil or just a man with such a dark past that he could have Jason Bourne signing up for an advanced course in the art of espionage? Unforgivably, as it now stands, Fowler comes off as a little more than a tight-lipped Rambo and Otero as the loquacious sidekick damsel that Rambo typically wants to belt in the mouth. Rx? More development, please!
In this same vein, the actual expedition portion of the novel becomes a tragedy of errors. Everything goes wrong from start to finish, but not in the humorous style for which Spielberg is famous: think Indy trudging to freedom reluctantly through a pit of snakes when he has fumed long and loud about his ophidiophobia to anyone that would listen. A bit of farce in the desert would supplement the nerve frazzle of brutal circumstances and the egotistical head butting of too many characters with individual agendas with some necessary laughter--perhaps not on the part of the players but from the perspective of the reader. Sadly, Gomez-Jurado decides to play it straight sticking to the time-honored formula of weaving the incidents and the points of view of heroes and villains in short alternating chapters that keep the flow of the story moving steadily towards its so-so conclusion. Rx? More humor or more thrilling intrigue, please!
Bottom Line? Author Gomez-Jurado definitely has the style and descriptive ability to create a well-constructed novel with memorable characters. In "The Moses Expedition" he just takes himself too seriously as he relates a tale involving his recurring character, covert-op priest Anthony Fowler, in a thriller archaeological expedition to uncover the Ark of the Covenant. If Gomez-Jurado uses the style made famous by other popular writers of suspense (Dan Brown, David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child), he must come up with a much more intricate plot where history/the Bible/conspiracies all come together to titillate the reader and make him/her thirst for the next Fowler offering. "The Moses Expedition features all the prerequisite fanatics, but none of the puzzles or facts. Recommend only to those who want more of Anthony Fowler.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
What did you think of this review?
My kind of story has history, secrets, conspiracies, international settings, action and adventure. And that's exactly what Juan Gómez-Jurado likes too. Yes, The Moses Expedition involves a search for the Ark of the Covenant, something that Indiana Jones became famous for. But just because that tale was once told doesn't mean it isn't due for a major upgrade. And that's exactly what Juan Gómez-Jurado provides. There's sophisticated technology, advanced satellite communications, modern weaponry--things that may or may not make this new search any easier. In fact, they complicate things in ways that Indiana Jones could have never imagined. For aficionados of the genre there are also the usual players: spies, mercenaries, powerful businessmen, Nazis, archeologists, the Mossad, fanatics, and a journalist who has exclusive rights to a story of monumental proportions. There's also the age old conflict among Jews, Muslims, and Christians told in a fresh and unique way. The Moses Expedition is beguiling sophisticated. There's food for thought on nearly every page. If you like your intrigue, ...