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3.3 out of 5 stars
The First Apostle
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2009
I found this book to be an easy enough read. It is also a very quick read. Like all books in the religious thriller genre, there is plenty of action, a conspiracy, the badies (typically evil and ultimately stupid) and the evil Catholic Church (well not the Church itself, but people within it). Also, there is the ubiquitous missing scroll or codex that gives the true origin of Christianity, or some other shocking secret. In this case, the author follows the often tread route of the Cathars and their mysterious treasure at Montsegur. I won't add anymore so as to not ruin the story for potential readers. Finally, in common with other similar books, the quest is led by a male-female partnership - in this case Chris Bronson and his ex-wife Angela.

As far as the plot goes, it is reasonably written, mostly well-paced and has frequent action scenes. However, there is not enough characterisation, nor is much information given about the characters, their backgrounds or motives - in particular the protagonist, Chris Bronson, needs more padding out. Bronson is an engaging character whom I would have liked to have seen developed beyond the have-a-go hero type.

A simple enough book to read, there is just about enough here for me to recommend it and for me to want to read the next book by the author.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 August 2008
I have to disagree with the previous reviewer and say that although it is the "conspiracy theory genre" yet again, I find this book quite refreshing. I liked the idea that for once, we were not dealing with a CIA type superhero, the main protagonist actually worked in a Police Station in Tunbridge Wells (although I must admit I found it strange he would pull into the multi storey car park rather than park in the Police Station - as I know the location very well). I agree to Mr Bronson being a bit one-dimensional and I was mildly irritated how he arrived at his answers a little too quickly but, this is a fast paced thriller and I felt it was more intelligently written than a lot of the other conspiracy books that are out there , ie Chris Kuzneski's recent series - which are awful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2014
If this novel had been written with Islam as its first chosen target, I believe that the extremely misguided author, James Becker, would have been advised by his editor/publisher definitely not to bother. He has selected the very core fundamental truths and beginnings of the Christian Church and has then obliquely, but viciously attacked these truths whilst hiding behind his ridiculous and very poorly-written little pot-boiler of a story. His characters are one-dimensional miracle workers themselves – they seem to be able to make leaps of knowledge that would truly impress any psychic or prophet – although these anomalies are never allowed to derail the author’s obvious prejudice against the belief in the very existence of Jesus Christ. Further, Becker’s early Church diabolically schemes with Nero’s temporal Roman Empire to hoodwink a gullible early Christian congregation and then additionally the author portrays a matured Catholic Church as involving itself in premeditated wholesale murder and subterfuge to cover up these so-called ‘truths.’ I'm surprised that the Catholic Church hasn't sued this author – just how much rubbish and falsehood can be written nowadays and still be protected under the guise of fiction before decent people say ‘enough is enough.’ PS – I was not brought up in the Catholic faith, nor am I a Catholic today, but my faith in God and the Word made flesh remains strong. I will never read this author again. I hope others will do likewise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 January 2009
The First Apostle is a typical book - a thriller with a pseudo religious background and the evil Vatican hidding the real sources of Christianity in order to gain and keep power. Well, well... Dan Brown comes to mind. So this book is not at all original and just follow paths already gone by many. This alone justifies merely three stars. However, it is entertaining, fast moving and the style is not boring. I had no problems getting through the book in no time, but I am sure that in a months time I will have problems remembering what that was all about. So neither a nightmare nor a real page turner. I did not mind having read it, but I can not really recommend it. A book fine for a long distance flight but you will leave in the plane when getting off.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2009
im a fan of davinci code-kind-of-story, including david gibbins' lost gospel , chris K. , etc but in my opinion , this book is completely horrible.

first, the character can be so unbelievably smart ( come up with an answer just like that) and overly cautious one minute , and the next minute do something extremely stupid / shallow. i never dislike the main characters in a book so much like i dislike these two people especially at the ending.

--- possible spoiler warning ----

2nd, the idea of the story just doesnt appeal at all to me , a lot of books out there pointed how corrupted catholic church was in the old days but actually pointed fingers at two saints as bad guys and then at the author's note try to point out that some people think the same thing about them are just too much and pathetic.

complete waste of my money and time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2012
I pretty much read this in a night. A complete page turner written in basic solid prose. I feared it was going to be one of those horrible knights Templar / grail rip offs. Fortunately it wasn't.

Some of the plotting is just laughable, particularly the way the protagonists get over the deaths of several close friends so quickly. Emotional dialogue is also utterly pre functionary most of the time. The easy manner in which the hero deducts and second guesses the baddies also raises the odd eyebrow. But the author's armed forces past does add veracity to the action scenes. The roman crucifixion opening scene in particularly descriptive without descending into "torture porn".

In summary, a solid surprisingly engaging and entertaining bit of bubble gum fiction. It would make a great film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2012
This isn't highbrow literature but it doesn't pretend to be. If you enjoy the 'race to unearth ancient artefacts whilst being chased by a group intent that the deadly/destructive secret hidden for thousands of years will not be uncovered' type books, you could do worse than spending a day or two reading this book!

I'm a big fan of these type novels, and whilst in my opinion, First Apostle isn't in the same league as any of Scott Mariani's Ben Hope series, it is still an entertaining read.

I read this book in a day and on the strength of this, I've already bought the next two books in the series - The Moses Stone & The Messiah Secret. So if you enjoy the likes of Scott Mariani, Steve Berry, Andy McDermott, I would recommend that you give this a go.
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on 20 May 2015
Ever heard of an Author Tract? It's when the author decides to preach his beliefs under the pretext of a fictional story. James Becker's The First Apostle is a prime example. I think it's safe to say Mr Becker is not a fan of Christianity. That's fine. Plenty of people aren't. But why did he see fit to insult our intelligence by pretending to write a novel when it's clear all he wants to do is unload his hatred of the Church? Novels usually have characterisation. The First Apostle has stereotypes. Novels usually have plots. The First Apostle has a series of events barely strung together. But why do you need characters and plots when your only aim is to contaminate the world with your ignorance?

I don't actually agree with Mr Becker's opinions. His knowledge of 1st century history compares unfavourably to a pigeon's knowledge of quantum mechanics. Unfortunately his views on religion seems to have blinded him to any historical evidence that might have stopped him from ever writing this loathsome trash. Mr Becker appears not to have heard of Tacitus. No matter, he's only the most well known Roman historian. Mr Becker is very selective in his use of historical sources. The methodology seems to be, 'if it supports my case, it's authentic. If it doesn't, then it's not.' He does get confused though. He will happily cast doubt on the historical validity of the Bible but go on to make bald assertions (eg that there were 12 apostles) which depend entirely on the Bible.

If you have had the misfortune to come across this book, I suggest F.F. Bruce's 'New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?' It is a healthy corrective and I can recommend it to you, especially if you are in fact Mr Becker.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2011
I love this genre of book, and i think i bought this one as a recommendation from buying others of a similar ilk.
This has to be the worst one i've ever read. How Bronson (a lowly detective sargeant - I think? - with the Met in Tunbridge Wells) manages the gargantuan leaps he does in deciphering the importance of those three words written in stone, is beyond me.
I actually laughed out loud at one point.
Blatant plugs for use of "his nokia" when, of course, a call on a mobile would suffice.
And as for the ending.............well, i can only assume the esteemed author is planning a sequel (heaven forbid!).
Finally, as a Kentish girl, I'm pretty appalled that the sub-editors or proof-readers don't know that "Tonbridge" has a different spelling to the "Tunbridge" in "Tunbridge Wells".

I always recycle my books to families and friends when I've read them. I have to say though, this one's gone in the recycling bin.
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on 13 October 2013
James Becker really grabbed me with this book, Its one of those "you can't put down" novels that you just have to get to the end to see what happens and he is a real tease. At one point I thought, ahhh things are coming to a head, must be near the end, but then realised there was still a third of the book to go. At that point I felt that momentary pang of "Oh no, this isn;'t going to be one of those books that just waffles and could be rounded up in ten pages is it?" That feeling though was soon dismissed as Becker , like a true artist, takes you on a helter skelter of ups and downs that just fill the last third of the novel. You think it's coming to an end and then the plot twists and turns and carries you along for the ride.

I don't hand out 5 stars for just any book, but I felt that this one truly deserved all 5 of them and I can't wait to start on the second in this series:- The Moses Stone. The characters are truly believable and fleshed out and I am looking forward to seeing what trials their future holds for them.

I would and have suggested this book to friends, I feel that it is really that good and as such also recommend it to anyone out there who likes a good thriller with twists and turns.
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