Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Lost Codex

August 1953

An Israeli member of the Mossad serves undercover as a translator on a Catholic archaeological dig in Bedouin territory near the Dead Sea.  An ancient scroll is discovered that portends to change religious history.  And it disappears.

I snap to attention thinking, “This Prologue is powerful!

Flashing forward in time, familiar characters from earlier Jacobson’s works are all brought back together for a Black Ops mission so secret even they weren’t told about it.

  • FBI profiler Karen Vail
  • DOD covert operative Hector Santos
  • FBI terrorism expert Aaron “Uzi” Uziel

A new character, Mahmoud El-Fahad, a Palestinian CIA Operative, is added to the team providing internal drama.  With real-life flareups in the Middle East, this novel has all the elements to capture the attention of the reader and educate about the disparate issues complicating a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine.

Additionally, the mysterious Codex is a tantalizing tease.  Ever present is a sense that the missing Codex has a significant role to play in the Black Ops Mission.

Unfortunately the book doesn’t pull off bringing these threads together smoothly. The alphabet soup common to the military and intelligence agencies is overpowering to the uninitiated reader.  The promise of learning that world religions could be profoundly affected by some ancient document hangs in the air with little or no reference for over half of the book. When Uzi and El-Fahad provide background on their cultures right in the middle of some interview or violent scene, it felt like the characters paused, faced the reader and gave a scripted history lesson. It stopped the action and made me lose track of what was happening in the story.

FBI profiler Karen Vail’s ridiculous mental asides appearing all through the book felt weird and made her seem an unlikely member of a black ops team.  It diminished the seriousness of her professional work.  Actually she seemed rather unnecessary to tell the truth.

The Lost Codex (the Aleppo Codex) remained lost through most of the book.  Now and again a thimbleful of text referred to it.  I kept waiting for the Team Black to eventually lead to the Aleppo Code and reveal what the scroll said that would change the world.  Instead the story seemed to head in all directions that had me wondering if all Black Ops teams and their Superiors are as unmoored as this group.  It might have been a better book to have just focused on the terrorists and the Middle East.

When, almost as an aside, the Codex is found and the deep secret is revealed, it felt anti-climatic.  The secret had the potential to rock the world but suddenly after those fugitive chases, bombings, intrigue, murder and mayhem, the Codex story just seems to lose air and quietly lose relevance altogether.

The Aleppo Codex is real and I was inspired by this book to find out more about it.  There was a great article in the 7/29/2012 issue of New York Times Magazine if you are interested.

I get really wrapped up in my reviews; I take them very seriously so the bottom line is I struggled to finish this book.  It was not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination just not top drawer.  There were entertaining and captivating moments.   The discussions on the history of the Middle East conflict were worth reading the book.

 

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Teaching an Old woman to blog…

How many of you remember the old TV show “Bewitched”? Rather than adding copyright infringement to my woes by posting a picture from the show let me tell the younger generation that Samantha was a good witch that could twitch her nose and “poof” problem solved.

Sue and sandy

How I wish Samantha could twitch her nose and get this blog site up and running so I could get to the business of reading and reviewing!

It seems I have always needed a little help with things.

I remember my father beating his head against the wall when he tried to help me with basic Algebra.    “Why do you need to call things A or B or AB?  Why make it so hard…why do you have to mix up numbers and letters?”  Well.. that’s how I feel now about Slugs or Categories or Stickies or Widgets.

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.  Bear with me.  The only thing twitching right now is my right eye.

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Taking the next big step

I want to spiff up my blog now that I have had a few months to mess around with WordPress.

I have nothing better to do over the next few months except cry and gnash my teeth as my normal routine has been rudely interrupted by ankle surgery.  I fully expect to be medicated the first few days so I am quite interested in my first thoughts and musings.  “Private pity parties” are only fun for a limited time so don’t expect a long tirade on poor me.

As a woodsy gal, I would much prefer to be out backpacking in the cold weather but that option ended when I stepped off a  retaining wall and landed in outer-space instead of  the workshop porch floor.

I decided to take advantage of my invalid status by turning my husband into a hausfrau and do little projects like this that demand quiet introspection.

TTFN.

 

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Ashley Bell

Poor Bibi Blair.  Dean Koontz let you down.

You just didn’t have a story that grabbed me and kept me interested.

I struggled through the first chapters knowing someSleeping-face books don’t take off right away.  I was waiting for that moment in the book where you lose yourself and enter the character’s world.  That place where you aren’t aware of how long you have been reading and when you do realize, you still keep reading… all night if necessary.

Koontz has always been one of my go-to authors when I needed a break from my comfortable genres. When I read the hype on Ashley Bell I felt I had found the perfect book.  What better way to take your mind off the usual fare than a book that takes you deep inside a character’s imagination.

Kootnz wants us to see Bibi as mysterious and somehow mentally superior to the rest of the world but all the characters, including Bibi, came across ashley bell bookmarkas flat as Flat Stanley.   I was very disappointed when I finally met Ashley Bell.

Bibi’s parents added nothing to the story.  In some instances they were a distraction standing around wringing their hands and spouting surfer slang.  Paxton Thorpe, the NAVY Seal boyfriend, was about as deep as Prince Charming.  Bibi, a loner, somehow attracts a super hunk that is willing to give up his life’s ambitions to living with a social misfit.

The plot rambled and stumbled.  Occasionally a totally bizarre storyline, superfluous to the Bibi’s story, found its way into the confusion making it very difficult to follow Bibi on her journey to find Ashley Bell.

Near the end Koontz did bring together a few threads but by then it was too late.  The ending was just very unsatisfying.  The only satisfying part to me was looking at my husband as I put the book down and saying, “Finally.  The End.”

Not all was amiss.  I will give a book a “star” if I learn something new or if the topic inspires me to read more on the same subject.  In this instance, I was impressed with the new vocabulary words.  I keep a pad near my reading area to write down words unknown to me.  I had quite a list this time.  Thank you, Dean Koontz.

I do want to thank NetGalley for the advanced e-reader copy in
exchange for an honest review. I also want to thank Random House for the hardcopy galley I won in a Bookpage giveaway. Believe me, I was truly ready to love this book.

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