I almost never read fiction books. Ever. There is just too much to do, and so little time. Once in a while, though, I need to refresh my mind and clear it from more serious matters with a good fiction book. I did so recently with “The Cana Mystery” by David Beckett. Once I started reading this book I couldn’t help but make the time to finish it, which doesn’t happen too often for me with fiction books!
Here’s the book description from the author’s website:
“Ava (a brilliant grad student) receives a call from Paul, her old flame. Will she fly to Yemen to help solve an ancient mystery? Curious, she goes—but Paul fails to show at the airport. Worse, fearsome men are following her! With help and support from her hacker pals, Ava tracks Paul to a remote Egyptian monastery where he’s hiding from his unscrupulous billionaire boss (Simon DeMaj) and a murderous drug lord (Sheik Ahmed). While Ava was in transit, Paul discovered that Simon and Ahmed are in cahoots with corrupt cops to smuggle priceless antiquities out of Egypt. Refusing to participate, Paul absconded with the relics.
Before long, armed thugs penetrate the desert sanctuary. Ava and Paul must rely on their wits and their friends to stay alive. Meanwhile, Ava applies her unique code-breaking skills to solve the underlying mystery: do the artifacts contain a hidden prophecy? Can Paul and Ava prevent Armageddon?”
Is The Book Overtly Catholic?
I found “The Cana Mystery” through the recommendation of the Facebook page Catholic Fiction. I will start by saying, though, that this is not an overtly Catholic book. It doesn’t beat you over the head with Catholicism, it doesn’t assume you are very familiar with Catholic teachings, and it does not lay immediate judgement on the actions of the characters and it doesn’t present them as clearly good or evil in many cases. It is tough to tell whether some of the characters would be characterized as good, bad, or somewhere in between.
This book is more of a fiction book that follows a story line including archaeological relics important to Catholic/Christian history, and the book is more not-anti-Catholic than overtly Catholic. It’s like a Dan Brown book that isn’t trying to cast suspicion upon the Church. Even so, there are some over-arching Catholic messages in the book and there are some moments in the story where you will see the hand of God at play.
Overall, this book was really enjoyable. There was a whole lot of action and it kept me wanting to read another chapter every time I planned on stopping. There are some things I did not like about the book, and some things that I really did like.
A Couple of Things I Didn’t Like As Much:
-There are quite a few characters right from the beginning and the character development at first is thin. For the first couple of chapters it was difficult for me to keep track of who was who, but eventually I came to enjoy seeing the events unfold from multiple perspectives. The action in the story takes off almost right away and characters come and go sporadically through all of the events, so I had to reference back to the beginning to figure out who the story was talking about on a few occasions.
-Some of the plot twists are accepted by the characters a little too easily. At one point the intentions of a character appear to be completely different than what we expected and you aren’t sure if you should trust it, but the main characters seem to accept the switch with just a couple sentences of explanation and then carry on with hardly a second thought. It felt a little rushed to me, or maybe the exposition of the flip just didn’t work. There should have been a little more time spent exploring dramatic moments like this.
What I Did Like
-The story takes place as Pope Benedict XVI was resigning and Pope Francis was just about to be elected-this was not that long ago! When the characters heard news stories about the Pope and the conclave on TV I remembered exactly where I was and what I was doing when that event was actually occurring. It makes the story more real – I feel like the story is taking place in the same world I am living in.
-The bad guys in this book were BAD people. They do some bad things to others, and it makes you realize just how urgent it is for the main characters to succeed. These aren’t the ridiculous bad guys like the albino monks of other archaeological and historical thrillers.
-I learned a whole lot about history and Biblical artifacts. It was pretty interesting.
-As I said before, the story is action-packed and intriguing.
I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. There were a few things that made me suspend my disbelief a little bit, but overall it was a well thought-out and entertaining book.