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Serpent of Moses

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Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

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"...a well-written follow-up to Hoesel’s Elisha's Bones."

Tightly close your eyes and think back to your childhood days. Do you remember the story of Moses and the brass serpent staff from your Sunday school classes? He crafted and lifted up the brass serpent as commanded by God, healing the afflicted Israelites of poisonous snakebites. It’s found in Numbers 21:4-9. Oh, now you do!

Well, a few hundred years later, King Hezekiah (715 BC) was faced with a dilemma. The people of Israel had begun to worship the serpent staff known as Nehushtan as a deity.
Long thought destroyed (2 Kings 18:4), it's been buried for millennia, swallowed up within the shifting sands of the middle east.

A mere three years after the recovery of Elisha's bones, Dr. Jack Hawthorne has taken a self-appointed sabbatical from teaching to resume his passionate pursuit of archaeology. This decision creates tension in the relationship with his on-and-off-again girlfriend, Esperanza. After Jack arrives in Libya, he soon discovers he isn't the only one searching for the serpent staff of Moses. The Israeli government will stop at nothing to claim their rightful piece of history.

Esperanza, her brother Romero, and fellow archeology associate Duckey are intriguing "posse” members for the adventure-seeking, yet laid-back Jack. With their lives threatened by the Libyans, a power-hungry member of the Vatican and an “Incredible Hulk”-like Egyptian assassin, the ”posse” must locate Jack and stay ahead of the unseen dangers that lurk around every corner.

Figuring out clues, symbols, language and where they fit in the grand scheme, Espy and Romero’s deduction process is written well and historically enlightening. (Often I had to remind myself what I was reading was fictional and may not be based on truth.)

Serpent of Moses has a slower pace in the beginning as the reader assimilates information and the storyline but begins to build momentum as the pursuit of both Jack and the coveted staff of Moses moves to the forefront of the tale.

Hoesel’s hallmark is his superbly penned descriptive paragraphs overflowing with imagination. This helps the reader visualize each and every location. The interwoven suspense is amped as Hoesel gives us Bouyfayed, Imolene and Templeton's point of view throughout the different scenes.

In spite of a brief display of unusual power, the encounter between Templeton and the serpent staff is more confusing than eye-opening. The conclusion screams open-endedness which left me a little unsatisfied. Yet, Serpent of Moses is a well-written follow-up to Hoesel’s Elisha's Bones. I will definitely read a Hoesel story anytime. He does historical fiction with an archeological twist well!

Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.