In Gómez-Jurado's unoriginal, intermittently exciting religious thriller, two characters from the Spanish author's internationally bestselling first novel, God's Spy—Fr. Anthony Fowler, who works for both the CIA and the Vatican secret service, and Andrea Otero, a plucky El Globo journalist—become involved in a secret archeology expedition to Jordan. Raymond Kahn, the eccentric and reclusive chief of Kayn Industries, hopes the team will recover that elusive treasure beloved by many school-of-Dan-Brown writers, the Ark of the Covenant. Several terrorist groups are targeting the expedition, and one by one people turn up dead. U.S. readers who just can't get enough of the Ark would be better off watching yet again the first Indiana Jones flick, The Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Mar.)
Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code in this fast-paced thriller by the Spanish author of the successful God's Spy. After extricating a map hidden decades ago in a candle by a Nazi war criminal, Fr. Anthony Fowler—an agent of both the CIA and the Holy Alliance—joins an archaeological dig called the Moses Expedition. Financed by the eccentric agoraphobic Raymond Kayn, this expedition aims to unearth the Arc of the Covenant. Soon, we learn that a key member of the expeditionary team is an Islamic terrorist whose fellow terrorists intend to abort the mission. The plot is full of ironic twists, including the identity of the turncoat and the reason for Kayn's obsession with the mission. To create tension, Gómez-Jurado digs into a panoply of cinematographic devices. The characters are assaulted by sandstorms, scorpions, and vicious red ants, to name a few, and just when the reader thinks the author has exhausted all possibilities, he conjures up something equally startling. Readers familiar with God's Spy will delight in the reappearance of Father Fowler and Andrea, two of only a handful of survivors of that book's debacle. VERDICT A well-written thriller with an exciting plot and well-drawn characters. For thriller fans, what's not to like?—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
The Ark of the Covenant represents a tantalizing prize (yes, again!) in this suspense melodrama from the Spanish author of God's Spy (2007). There's an echo of Raiders of the Lost Ark in the Nazi who opens the story, the "genocidal monster" who performed lethal experiments on Jewish children, one of whose brothers escaped to America. Years later in 2006, Raymond Kayn, now a reclusive New York billionaire, sends Father Anthony Fowler (ex-CIA, now Vatican Secret Service) to Austria to retrieve a family heirloom from the ancient Nazi. It contains a scroll that details the location of the Ark in the Jordanian desert. Kahn also commissions a Spanish journalist, Andrea Otero, to cover the top-secret expedition. (Fowler and Otero are holdovers from God's Spy, and Kahn needs them both at the site. Exactly why is murky.) There are so many characters they all but trip over each other, and there's no one narrator to hold everything together; curiously, it's the brash lesbian Andrea who gets the most attention. The unwieldy expedition arrives in the desert, unaware that Islamic terrorists have preceded them. They are following the orders of shadowy mastermind Huqan, a double agent; when his identity's finally revealed, it's sheer unforeshadowed silliness. But he keeps it moving! If the author knows nothing else, he knows how to do that, cross-cutting between the desert and Washington, where a sleuth is on Huqan's trail. Too bad he dispels the suspense with a chapter heading proclaiming the expedition a disaster. Still, the intrigues continue. Kahn, Fowler and the Vatican-they all have their hidden agendas. Then there's the irrelevant melodrama: the evil Colombian security guard who sets scorpions onAndrea and killer ants on Fowler, the jihadist in Washington who tortures the sleuth with skewers. As the team closes in on the Ark, bombs go off and bodies pile up and a horrendous sandstorm claims the rest. A second novel that has the trappings of suspense fiction but none of its substance.