The 13th Apostle by Richard and Rachael Heller
|The 13th Apostle by Richard and Rachael Heller|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kerry King|
|Summary: Could an ancient diary lead to the solving of the greatest mystery the world has ever known? Can one man crack the code? Only if he survives...|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 432||Date: September 2007|
Dr Heller, Professor of Biology for 28 years at the University of New York and his wife, also Dr Heller, Professor Emeritus at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, are no strangers to the New York Times Best Seller List although largely for their non-fiction diet plan, The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet. The 13th Apostle is their first work of fiction, which according to the blurb inside the jacket, is the natural result of their extensive life experiences. Made you curious?
The tale itself centres around three characters from two time periods: In the present day we meet Gil Pearson, cyber-geek extraordinaire and Sabra Karaim, beautiful, enigmatic, vicious and deadly. From 36 AD we are also introduced to Micah, Jesus's trusted friend and confidante and 13th Apostle.
You have to know, up front, that I think it's very, very hard to write in the footprints of others. Think Sam Bourne's The Last Testament, The Da Vinci Code and The Righteous Men also by Bourne, all of which, it seems, the public cannot get enough of. Suffice to say it is a fairly well-travelled road, without making mention of the book of the same title written by Michael Benoit, published in June of this year that depicts the story of an ancient sect detailed within papyrus sheaves hidden in the caves at Qumran (now known as The Dead Sea Scrolls). Similarly, a hidden copper scroll is basically the platform for the Heller's novel. As we have seen by the best seller lists, tales based around religious lore, Knights Templar and Tazadikim are proven winners with the public at large. I'm just not sure that The 13th Apostle has the cojones to stand on its own in the shadow of the giants that came before it.
In which case, let's judge it on its own merits and see how it fares. The characters were a touch one dimensional; Sabra too contrived and Gil too wet. I don't like my heroes to be quaking in their boots more than is realistic to the plot. And I don't like my heroines to be such cold, dreadful bitches with more to them than meets the eye if you just look below the surface. That said, I really liked Micah; he seemed so warm and genuine and very much a man enveloped by his beliefs and the quest to bring the greater good to mankind that it made up for the lack of humanity in the other main characters.
If the plot had not leapt about quite as much as it did (the chapter headings were annoying - such as "Hotel Agincourt, A Few Minutes Later") it could quite easily have been excellent. The story, although over-popular and a smidge familiar, was a good one. At points it was a real page turner and at others, it left me wanting something else. Perhaps more mystery? Perhaps the riddle needed to be harder to solve? The protagonists had certainly reached their conclusion before page 320, about 30 pages early for the end of the book, and, for me, about 130 pages early for this genre of novel.
In summary, I feel a bit mixed. It was good in parts but had the potential to be so much better. In any event, if you enjoyed Dan Brown and Sam Bourne - and I realise these guys aren't for everyone, just several million readers worldwide - then what the heck, maybe you should give The 13th Apostle a whirl?
Thanks indeed to the people at Harper Collins for sending The Bookbag this book for review.
Here at Bookbag we think you might enjoy Sam Bourne's The Last Testament.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The 13th Apostle by Richard and Rachael Heller at Amazon.com.
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