Most helpful critical review
Should be left in the Reliquary...
on 14 August 2014
Our principal character, an Irishman, appears to have gone into a seminary aged 18 - at the Vatican no less - where his language skills are noticed and developed with his growing fascination for the Vatican's treasury of historic documents.
He resigns the Church after 8 years to become a textual archaeologist. We meet him at the opening of his Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at Cambridge University where he teaches. His authority and expertise is embellished with his being credited with the discovery of a cache of 11 contemporaneous books regarding the life and times of Jesus Christ.
Having introduced his character with this scholarly background, the author never refers to it again. Good thing too. Even I can tell that his famous finds were fakes. Contemporary writing (the clue is in his exhibition) was Aramaic or Greek, not ancient Hebrew. Back to our hero, we learn that his career as a priest suddenly expands from eight to ten years, and along the way we discover he holds a pilot's license. We're not told when and where he earns the degree(s) he required in order to teach at Cambridge.
This first draft shows a lot of promise. I am absolutely at one with the reviewers who commend it as a good yarn.
But it is hard work. It took me three days to drag my unenthusiastic way to the end. It is also poorly told, inconsistent, and has the strangest Italians (cops wearing balaclavas, recognising Pinkie rings and exclaiming, Bingo!?). And I don't know if we're supposed to notice the minor miracle of one becoming a native English speaker by the end of the novel.
It shouts out for a firm editor. And it desperately needs a competent copy-editor. For example, can you see consistency in addressing one character as: Dean, dean, Doggie, Mr or Chancellor? Or in these italicisations: Bright idea, Vito; top; Star Trek; Lear Jet's?
One star: to bring such writing to the public in this state (not fit) is a disservice to the author and to the readers. But if I come across his next book, I'll certainly try it!