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Don Hoesel – Elisha’s Bones

January 29, 2009

LibraryThing Early Reviewers12. Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel (01 March 2009)

Length: 216 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Started: 28 January 2009
Finished: 29 January 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 16 January 2009
Verdict? Going into the To Be Bookmooched pile

Biblical relics
and secret societies,
but it’s not Dan Brown!

Summary: When a dying billionaire offers archaeology professor Jack Hawthorne carte blanche funding with the request that he chase down some obscure biblical relics – the bones of the prophet Elisha, rumored to have the power to bring men back from the dead – Jack shakes the dust off his field skills and heads out into a life he thought he’d left behind years ago – with an ex-flame along for the ride. However, this kind of archaeology is a lot more deadly than what he was used to – danger comes not only from a rival group hunting the bones, but also from the operatives of an ancient, secret organization dedicated to keeping the bones hidden.

Review: I don’t read much in the mystery/thriller department, so it’s hard for me to say how well Elisha’s Bones stacks up against other entries in the genre. Suffice it to say that if it is representative of other thrillers out there, then I’m reminded *why* I don’t read many of them. This book reads as a combination of The DaVinci Code and the entire Indiana Jones trilogy, and while secret societies and gunfire and explosions are all well and good for Sunday afternoon spent with my DVD player, I want a little more meat – and subtlety – to my books. While The DaVinci Code‘s clues were often too easy, at least the reader had access to the same information as the protagonists, and the clues were ultimately explained, and fit into a plausible-seeming whole. In Elisha’s Bones, the protagonists were frequently in possession of information that wasn’t revealed until the audience until the next chapter, if ever, and the solution to the mystery wasn’t particularly complex, well-explained, or entirely plausible. But look, another explosion!

I was also not a huge fan of the writing style. To start out with, the entire book is written in first person present tense, which I find hugely distracting. Hoesel never slips up (that I noticed) and gives Jack information that he couldn’t have had in the moment, but the flipping back and forth between dialogue, narrative action, and introspection feels as though Jack’s narrating all of his actions to himself in his head as they’re happening, which I found weird and jarring. The narration also spends a lot of time dwelling on inconsequential details, which seems odd considering the amount of actual information that would have been important to the plot that’s left sketchy.

I will give this book it’s due credit, in that it was a lot less preachy than I was expecting. I didn’t realize when I first requested it that it was Christian Fiction, and I was apprehensive of getting a book that spent all of it’s time talking about the power of God’s love (or whatever.) Luckily, Jack’s a cynic and his faith is mostly lapsed, and although the passages about God feel somewhat heavy-handedly shoehorned in, they’re fairly few and far between. Unfortunately, “lack of preachiness” is not enough to save a book where the writing style bothers me, I’m not particularly involved with the characters, the plot’s got some large-ish holes, and the whole thing seems to be more flash than substance. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Not my cup of tea. It *is* certainly action-packed, and readers who really enjoy thrillers might have a better go of it than I did, but as DaVinci knock-offs go, I’d stick with the original.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I couldn’t find any. Have you read this? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: It’s an indescribable sound when a piece of ancient stone finally gives.


  • p. 80: ““It’s a form of demotic Egyptian rendered from the Greek alphabet.”” – the simplified form of hieratic writing used in ancient Egypt between 700 b.c. and a.d. 500.
  • p. 102: “As if to validate that desire, the weyala leaning out the door of the vehicle calls to a group of pedestrians in Amharic, gesturing toward the oversized taxi.” – a conductor who receives fares on minibus taxis in Ethiopia.
  • p. 119: “It is much like Bete Medhane Alem, but with its own peculiarities such as the windows, which were carved in odd shapes, allowing the light to fall on the Holy of Holies and on the tabot that rests there.” – a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

**All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may not reflect the final published copy**

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Don Hoesel permalink
    January 30, 2009 7:48 am

    Thanks for the feedback Fyrefly.

  2. January 30, 2009 1:00 pm

    The only book that I’ve read like the Da Vinci Code is The Memorist by MJ Rose, which I adored.

    I think I might skip this one. Thanks for another honest review.

  3. January 30, 2009 1:00 pm

    Thanks for your honest review. I’m not too fond of first person present tense either, but I’ve read some books where it works.

  4. January 30, 2009 3:00 pm

    I’m not a fan of the DaVinci Code so this probably won’t be a book for me. Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

  5. January 30, 2009 11:50 pm

    Don – Sorry I wasn’t a better match for your book; best of luck!

    Serena – I’ve got The Memorist in my TBR pile, and have heard plenty of good things about it.

    Anna – I feel like I’ve come across some good examples of it too, although I can’t think of any at the moment.

    Joanne – Thrillers aren’t really my favorite genre either, although I thought I’d branch out and give them a try again.

  6. January 31, 2009 9:55 am

    great review, I do enjoy mystery thrillers, but I didnt like DaVinci Code too much myself.
    This one does sound pretty good.

  7. February 2, 2009 11:03 am

    bookworm – If you think you’d be interested in reading this one, I’d be happy to pass my copy along.

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