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on Sep. 14, 2013 :
THE ALKANO LETTERS by Kenneth Joel Teicher proved to be quite different from my usual reviewing fare of romance, paranormal and YA fiction. I'm going out on a limb here in assigning a genre to this archeological action/suspense novel, which was set in the present day but contained notes of the ancient world. I want to compare it to a Dan Brown novel (which I confess to having read), but at the same time I don't want to insult the author by suggesting his careful and detailed prose belongs in the same category with drivel.
Am I qualified to judge the accuracy of the archeological information and theories advanced in THE ALKANO LETTERS? No, not by a long shot. But I will say that the story demands the reader's full focus because so much information is imparted in just the first few chapters. This is not a story to read with the television going in the background. Proper processing of all the plot elements really requires the reader to devote his undivided attention
Craig Johnson is a solider with a degree in ancient history who hires out as a mercenary. As a hero, he is smart, competent and likeable. I had no difficulty in developing an empathetic bond with Craig and I very much enjoyed his romantic relationship with archeologist/anthropologist Erin Mathews. It's always refreshing to see a woman over thirty portrayed in such a positive and attractive manner.
While the story tends to require a high level of intellectual commitment on the part of the reader, Teicher keeps the plot moving, interspersing the info-heavy chapters with action and romance. The Grecian setting fits perfectly with the themes of ancient unknowns and intrigue. The familiar trope of The Church Conspiracy is adapted to fit with the mystery surrounding the Alkano letters and then given a fresh twist that helps it avoid the cliché of paranoid priests everywhere. Throw in a few good chases, guns, and an employer known only by his initials (CV). It's a recipe for fun.
Secondary characters were well-developed and interesting. I especially liked Craig's mercenary buddy, Thaddeus, and Erin's grandfather, Professor Bannington. The prose is solid. The story is well written and well edited but the cover really doesn't begin to do the book justice. All in all, I'd definitely recommend THE ALKANO LETTERS for anyone interested in an exciting "what if" archeological thriller.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
J. M. Davis
on May 19, 2013 :
The Alkano Letters was a highly enjoyable read. While Erin, her grandfather, along with six grad students try to unravel the mystery behind letters discovered in an archeological dig on the Island of Alkano, along with other letters found at other sites earlier, Craig and a team of mercenaries are hired to provide security at the site for the team members.
A theory of who authored the letters begins to unfold. If proven accurate, it would rock the foundations of Christianity. Unknown to Erin's grandfather, a group, with roots dating back two thousand years, has been intercepting e-mail correspondence between Erin's grandfather and CV, the man financing the operation.
Craig and Erin are immediately attracted to each other upon Craig's arrival on the island. Charged with protecting Erin and the team, he has his hands full when the group intercepting the correspondence decides the true meaning of the letters can never be made public. It's a race against time to prove the authenticity of the letters, where they were written, and release the information. After coming under attack, the team is forced to leave the island and seek safe harbor elsewhere while attempting to decipher the letters. Codes in the margins of the letters appear to hold the key to who authored them.
Unfortunately for the Erin, Craig and the grad students, the group after them is well connected and continues to stalk the team. The level of attacks increase and the threat is ever present as Craig attempts to use his experience as an ex-military major and ex-CIA agent to protect the woman he is falling in love with, not to mention all of the other team members. Just when Erin and the grad students believe they have everything they need to go public, all hell breaks loose.
This story made me think back to when I read the Da Vinci Code. This THE ALKANO LETTERS is the first in a three book series. After finishing reading it, I immediately began reading the next book in the series. I gave this first book five stars because the plot kept me interested, the story moved fast, and the characters are likeable.
(reviewed the day of purchase)