Pentecost and Prophecy by J F Penn
Slow down, I want to get — wait, no I don’t…
One of my many criteria for books that I read for enjoyment is page-turn-ability, i.e. it makes me want to read it all in one go – I read the first two books in J.F. Penn’s ARKANE series both of them in succession, which say something!
Morgan Sierra is a kick-ass individual with Israeli Special Forces training. If you need the comparison, she falls somewhere between Indiana Jones and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon, combining esoteric knowledge about religions and their psychology with the ability to take on the violent baddies on their own terms.
In Pentecost, Morgan is wrenched from her quiet practice in Oxford, Morgan and ruggedly handsome ARKANE agency operative Jake Timber are forced on a quest to find twelve stones taken from the tomb of Jesus Christ by the twelve apostles after Christ’s ascension into Heaven. Known as the “Pentecost stones”, the artifacts are alleged to contain great power on their own, even more when put together. And there are at least two camps willing to go to any lengths to obtain them.
Morgan and her sister have two of the stones, given to them by their parents and, in order to motivate Morgan to find the stones, her sister and niece are hostages in the grasp of a powerful man.
ARKANE is an academic research collective on the surface; as Morgan’s quest progresses, she finds it has an official mission to find dangerous religious artefacts to keep them falling into the wrong hands and the resources to match the mission.
As I said before, the pace of this first novel is just right, pushing things along while informing the reader at the same time. I’d say Penn knows what she’s talking about when it comes to religion and the way individuals can become obsessed with religious ideas and the way the world works. The characters are believable and I found myself rooting for the good guys almost immediately!
If anything, it all ended too quickly for me, but then, that might have been because I couldn’t put it down!
Following on from Pentecost, Prophecy takes us further into the dim and rather scary world of religious artefacts and the fanatics prepared to do anything to own these fragments of the past.
But in this case the bad guys, in the form of billionaire and megalomaniac Milan Noble and a shadowy organisation known only as “Thanatos” with their symbol of a white horse, are looking for something called The Devil’s Bible, in order to fulfill the prophecy in the book of Revelations that decrees a quarter of the world’s population has to die. It’s up to ARKANE agent Morgan and her partner, Jake to stop them.
Having just finished Penn’s first book, Pentecost, Prophecy seemed to take a while to build up momentum. It’s not surprising, considering the weighty subjects she’s tackling here – how do you programme the human mind? But that could have just been the adrenaline hangover I had from the ending of the previous book.
Another thing I judge books by is their ability to make me feel something for the characters – i.e. do I care what happens to them? Penn succeeds, particularly when the action takes off. Oh yes, you care what happens to Morgan and Jake, make no doubt about it.
After these two accomplished novels, I’m looking forward to her new one, Exodus, due any day!
Would I recommend them? If you like your thrillers fast paced, sprinkled with historical facts, figures and tied into the modern day in the vein of Dan Brown, then yes, I’d recommend it. Go on, you know you want to!