Monday, August 12, 2013

Carolyn McCray's 30 Pieces of Silver Present Alternative (Revisionist) History of Life of Jesus...and Judas...

"Corey kissed the top of her head. They were going to be fine, but if the effectiveness of a terrorist attack was based on civilian casualties and the destruction of an international monument, this baby was going to go down as the lamest suicide bombing ever. But he knew this was only the calm before the storm, as the Eiffel Tower suddenly had competition in the lights department. 
"Red, blue, and yellow lights flashed as the police and fire trucks bore down on their location. Very soon, all hell was going to break loose. With his ears still ringing, Corey thought he heard someone say bodies. Releasing Kika from his embrace, he joined the German. “I thought everyone was okay?”
 “We’re fine, but…” the man said, then pointed to the hole. Corey carefully stepped toward the edge. Now it made sense why there was so little damage to the tower itself. When the chick was screwing around with the pack she must have accidentally focused the blast downward, creating a ragged opening in the stone. But why, after barely surviving a bombing, were these people making such a fuss about a stupid hole in the ground? 
"Then, as the dust settled, Corey gasped. Buried beneath the most romantic landmark in the world was a crypt full of bodies. No, not bodies, skeletons. Lots and lots of skeletons, but after the explosion, they were just a tangle of rib cages and shattered leg bones. It was as though the Crypt Keeper had put them into a blender and then thrown them into the trash. 
~~~
30 Pieces of Silver

By Carolyn McCray


This book has been around for awhile--there are over 1100 on Amazon! Still, I hadn't had time and wanted to read it myself. If you do not like having Christian beliefs "reconsidered" in the form of fiction, please don't read it. It has already been declared controversial, so...this is my only warning...

Most of the alternative (revisionist)  history story is interesting except for one character and that came at the end. It really was unbelievable, given the context of the story and characters. On the other hand, it was intriguing that the author didn't go even further--too blasphemous? or Just didn't know how to finish the novel? Finally, as written, the very beginning "differs" from the ending and I personally couldn't justify its being written as it was. What should have been written as obscure wasn't; therefore negating the major hypothesis... Consistent details matter to me...especially in an alternative history novel...

There were also several scenes that didn't come across as believable for the scientists; i.e., the handling of artifacts, yet, if you were choosing your life over your "greatest find" in your life, I guess we still all would choose life... LOL Then there were a couple of finds that I wished were proven to be true... Imagination at its best???

On the whole, however, I thought the novel was an excellent thriller that pulls readers in immediately with a snake scene and then the beginning of what would be considered a "treasure hunt" type of novel...

"Suddenly the chief jumped in front of her, landing so close that his tattooed face was within an inch of hers. He bared a set of filed teeth. Rebecca tried to pull away, but had nowhere to go. 
"She turned her face to the side, but found the forked tongue of an anaconda. Its huge triangular head filled her vision. Genus: Eunectes. Species: murinus. 
"The chief waved the snake’s head wildly in the air as the other warriors supported its twenty-foot-long body. Already struggling to breathe, she writhed as they wrapped the smooth tail around her feet. She shivered at its cold touch. Painfully, slowly, they coiled the beast around her legs, then her waist, then her chest. Finally they let the snake encircle her neck, ending with the anaconda cheek to cheek with her.
"Its tongue flickered along her bloody temple, trying to get a taste of what was to come. Flailing, Rebecca fought panic as the monstrous reptile followed its evolutionary instincts. "Coils tightened, constricting her chest, squeezing her breath down to a desperate wheeze— then even that died. How Rebecca wished she didn’t know that an anaconda had enough muscular strength to break a jaguar’s rib cage within five minutes. 
"Rebecca’s only comfort was that the end must be near.



“Enough!” Lochum yelled at Monroe, then turned

 to Brandt. The professor looked ready to

 blow a capillary. “Did you even notice this?”
 The professor pointed to a small silver coin next
 to the skeleton’s skull. Glancing to the other
 tables, Brandt realized that each body had one. 
Monroe looked skeptical.
 “There could be a thousand reasons why there
 might be currency left with—” Lochum pulled
 a small coin from his pocket and laid it
 side by side. 
“Damn you, woman!
 This is from the same minting as our coin!” 
"Brandt was more intrigued by Monroe’s reaction
 than Lochum’s outburst. Rather than move
 forward to inspect the silver, she took a halting
 step back. Much as she had done on the tarmac. 
“Look at the stamping, Becca. 
They all have Herod’s insignia.”
~~~
The Eiffel Tower has been bombed and a small group of special forces were sent to Ecuador to bring back Rebecca Monroe. All that she was told when they demanded to take her was one word--the name of a former professor with whom she had once been student, assistant...and lover...

Of course, getting her free from the Anaconda that was wound around her body when they found her took all of the men. The natives had run away after the chief was down. But then, the natives were back, realizing that live ammunition had not been used. Brandt and his men sure weren't prepared for Rebecca to criticize their actions--it seemed she was willingly going through a "trial" in order to negotiate...

Once they had gone, though, there were no negotiations, all of the tribe were killed...The Knot had hoped to be there first to find Monroe...

Once the group join Professor Lochum, the time periods in the novel move from a beginning in 14 AD to the present time. At the time Christ was a child, Judas was a friend and essentially stayed near him leading up to the period when Christ went into the Desert...at which time, it was Judas that was requested to come meet Jesus when he returned...

One of the points I found interesting was that it was said that Jesus and Judas looked alike. There are many pictures available, so this may have been a possibility???

James had come also, and one other waited, a young nephew of Judas who presents a unique addition to the traditional story...

When the Eiffel Tower was bombed, Professor Lochum had been the expert called to work and study the remains. He had immediately sent for Professor Monroe to assist, quickly putting his present assistant aside as he tried to rekindle the former mentor-student role. But Rebecca wasn't having any of that and proved to be a strong member of the final team and in many ways, more knowledgeable especially, with the support of her computer which she carried for most of the trek...


“Look! Look! Look!” Ameil’s high-pitched cry turned both men toward the desert. “He comes!”
"In the distance, a slim figure stumbled in their direction. Without a word, both men hurried into the desert as Jesus fell to his knees, then onto his side. When they reached him, Judas could feel his friend’s very bones, and his skin was like a reed after a drought. Yet somehow, Jesus had survived. If it was not a miracle of God’s grace, then it was a testament to his friend’s faith.
“Help me,” James said as he took one shoulder. Judas took the other, and they carried Jesus back to the blankets. They laid his frail frame onto the wool. James grabbed the waterskin and placed it against his brother’s lips as Jesus tried to speak. “Drink, Brother. Just drink.”
"After a few gulps, Jesus raised a weak arm and pushed the water aside. “James, I did not wish you here.”
"Judas’s breath caught in his throat as James’s face displayed every ounce of hurt Judas imagined. James went to rise, but Jesus caught his sleeve. “I did not want you so troubled.” For all the pain that was in James’s face, brotherly love replaced it.
 “You are no trouble, Jesus. Not ever.” Jesus’s parched and cracked lips parted in a smile, accompanied by a wheezing laugh.
“That is not what you shouted in your eleventh year when you were forced to fix our cart’s axle by yourself.”
Judas sat back on his heels to give Jesus more room as James smoothed a damp rag over his brother’s forehead. “But that is what I meant, dear brother. That is what I meant.”
~~~



It was the poignant scene when He returned from the Temptation, between James and Jesus which, for me, assuredly negated the ending as presented--that is, the ending just didn't match other parts of the book...

Professor Lochum's entire career had been researching, tracing, and trying to find the burial of Jesus, thus
proving that Jesus had actually died on the cross. The "treasure hunt" which had started in France was, first, the finding of John the Baptist's body and then other important followers of Jesus. Each of the skeletons had tiny writings and each was sealed with one of the pieces of silver, enough for them to figure out the next location to look.. 

While I enjoyed the hunt scenes of finding each site, they were then only to be cornered by those from The Knot, a group who also sought these treasures but to keep them safe and secure for all time... And they would kill any and all to make that happen...

But as each scene occurred, it somehow resulted in the bones being lost by Lochum's group, some of which were never found again. It was hard to consider the burial sites, and then the bones of these men, being destroyed, desecrated...




"This turned both men’s attention to the sergeant.
“Seriously, do you think the US government would send in a black ops team to assist an archaeologist the world assumes to be dead to find a set of bones under a mosque in the only Muslim country that serves as our ally, and then make it public?” Brandt held out his hand for Walker’s tiny gun. “Get real. Whatever we find will be shipped directly to the Pentagon, and then somebody way over my pay grade will figure it out from there.”
"Walker tried to shake his head, but his hand shook more as Brandt finished. “And my corporal can take out your shoulder, so how about you hand that gun over and step away from the door?”
"Rebecca tensed, but it seemed to be Svengurd, cocking his gun quite loudly, that swayed the older man. Like a child caught in the cookie jar, Walker held out the gun. Faster than the eye could see, Brandt snatched the weapon and jerked the archaeologist away from the doorway. Rebecca gasped.
"Behind Walker stood a towering silver door whose beauty could not be articulated. In the center of the burnished metal were three finely etched symbols. The first represented the Star of David. The next detailed an elaborate cross, while the third was the crescent moon and star of Islam. Rebecca’s mind harkened back to a passage from John’s bones that involved the Trinity. Only now she realized the passage wasn’t talking about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but the three religions. Lochum must have realized the same thing as his fingers traced the symbols.
“He’s here,” the professor said with such reverence it almost broke her heart. But as he tried to find a latch or lock, Walker laughed. “That’s the quandary, my man. There’s no way in.”
~~~

It was interesting that the last site was under a Mosque. Indeed, they found that there were symbols of the "Trinity" of the major religions marking the grave...that He was God of all???

The closing was not acceptable not only personally but based upon earlier parts of the book--in my opinion, it did not fit the earlier characterizations for those involved. Nevertheless, what this ending did not do was eliminate the Resurrection...of Jesus...

I enjoyed the book outside of the ending and few spots mentioned. A final edit for details may have caught some of these issues, or not... Maybe the author purposely made it easy to contradict...LOL...


GABixlerReviews






Carolyn McCray has had a long and extremely interesting road to become a bestseller.

When she head to veterinary school those many years ago she had no idea decades later she would be writing controversial historical thrillers, gut wrenching mysteries and roller coaster-style action/adventure tales!

Born in San Francisco and raised in the beautiful Napa Valley, Carolyn always had an overactive imagination. As a child you could usually find her dragging the neighborhood children out to the haunted barn to make her Nancy Drew-style audio tapes. Oh and did she mention, there was an entire life-sized recreation of the nativity scene in the rafters? Yeah, that wasn't just a little creepy.

Which of course was great practice for writing such blockbusters as Plain Jane: A Patterson-style thriller with a dash of Hannibal and 30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller.

Carolyn is honored to have a seven book contract with Amazon's mystery and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer along with being one of the eight books during the inaugural launch of Amazon's new Serial program (9th Circle).

With over 250,000 books sold, Carolyn now lives on a beautiful lake in the Pacific Northwest where the fog rolls in over the water, snuffing out all signs of life around her. Yep, she still loves the creepy!