Jack is back! No, not Jack Bauer. Jack Hawthorne. You know Jack Hawthorne, former Evanston University professor and archaeologist for hire who first came on the scene in Elisha’s Bones (Bethany House, 2009). The last time we saw Jack, he and the lovely Esperanza were secretly reinterring the bones of the prophet Elisha, surely glad to be rid of them after the deadly ordeal that ensued during the search for them.
Fast forward several years and Jack is still wearing the hat of the itinerant archaeologist. His latest assignment has put him on the trail of another biblical artifact. This time it’s not bones he’s after, but a serpent. More specifically the Nehushtan, the bronze serpent on a pole that Moses had made in the wilderness as recorded in Numbers 21:4-9. 2 Kings 18:4 records that King Hezekiah had the Nehushtan destroyed because the Israelites were burning incense to it. What if it wasn’t completely destroyed, but was merely broken or dismantled? Could it be found today?
While many would call this quest a fools errand, there are those who think the Nehushtan can be found. Jack is working in the employ of Milo Sturdivant, museum director for Apsley House in London. Unbeknownst to Jack, there is a second team on the trail of the Nehushtan. This second team is working in the employ of the Israeli government and they’ve been tasked with doing “whatever it takes” to acquire it.
The story unfolds as Jack and the second team led by archaeologist Martin Templeton are competing to find and then struggling with each other for possession of the Nehushtan. When things don’t go as planned on either side, the Isreali government deploys Mossad agents to forcefully retrieve the sacred relic. Throw in the well-meaning Esperanza (Jack’s girlfriend), Jim “Duckey” Duckett (Jack’s former colleague at Evanston University and retired CIA agent), Romero (Esperanza’s brother, antiquities dealer) and agents from the Libyan intelligence community and you have one heck of an adventure on your hands.
Serpent of Moses is the third novel I’ve read by Don Hoesel. True to the style exhibited in his previous books, Hoesel once again weaves a broad web of intrigue that moves along at a rapid pace. Overall, I enjoyed the story very much, but was left wanting a bit more closure in three areas. First, I would have liked a bit more insight into what has transpired in Jack and Esperanza’s relationship since the closing of Elisha’s Bones. Second, I was left wondering why the Israeli government was interested in the Nehushtan. Was it because they felt it had some secret power or were they hoping to preserve it as an important symbol of their national identity and history? Third, what was the special power of the Nehushtan? Since Elisha’s Bones had the ability to heal, I expected something similar from the Nehustan. Towards the end of the story, we see its power briefly on display. It seemed to suggest that the person holding it was healed from a fatal wound, but it wasn’t really clear. Had these gaps I perceived in the story been filled, I would have given the book five stars as I did to Elisha’s Bones. In all honesty, I felt rather frustrated at the close of the story, so while it was a good read my overall rating for Serpent of Moses is 4 stars.
About the Author:
Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.
Where to Buy:
This book was provided by the publisher for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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