(Originally published February 10, 2009)
Joel C. Rosenberg’s bestselling series of end-times political novels is living proof that good thrillers don’t have to contain bad language, innuendo, or immorality. In “The Last Jihad” he envisioned an airplane hijacking by Islamic terrorists and a war in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein…before 9/11 even occurred. Now, in “The Copper Scroll” Rosenberg takes readers into the not-so-distant future, after a “Day of Devastation” has destroyed modern Islamic regimes.
“The Copper Scroll” follows the adventures of Jon and Erin Bennett, two American economists-turned-action-heroes who have a remarkable knack for stumbling into the middle of geopolitical crises. In this installment, Jon and Erin follow an ancient series of clues left by the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls that might – just might – lead to a fabulous cache of treasures from the Temple of Solomon. Political tensions run high as the nation of Israel considers whether or not to rebuild the Temple on the now-vacant site of the Dome of the Rock…and as new power begins to arise in the newly democratized nation of Iraq. Throw in an intriguing subplot regarding the Ark of the Covenant and you’ve got the makings of a gripping adventure. And Rosenberg delivers big. “The Copper Scroll” is chock-full of intense action sequences, ethical dilemmas, and fascinating treasure hunts. The book culminates in a fast-paced chase scene through the tunnels beneath Jerusalem.
As in many novels of the action-suspense genre, the characters are somewhat stilted and flat. Rosenberg probably has too many characters in his story, few of whom are of any lasting importance. Of the primary figures, Jon and Erin are certainly the most well-developed. One slight irritation is the lack of any real “villain” – Rosenberg’s villains enter and exit so quickly that it’s hard to feel any sense of loathing or distaste.
But these are relatively minor flaws. Overall, “The Copper Scroll” is an expertly written novel that manages to hold the reader’s interest where many other titles would stumble. It also contains a Christian message that, miraculously, never comes across as preachy or trite. The author neatly inserts Christian themes into his story that never detract from the pulse-pounding intensity. If more Christians wrote novels like Rosenberg’s, the world of literature would be a much better place…and if any of Rosenberg’s books end up being adapted into films, rest assured I’ll be the first in line.
One of the best Christian thrillers I’ve read in a long time. Compelling.