Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Boudicca Parchments / Adam Palmer

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Thriller

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Adam Palmer is one of the pen names used by author David Kessler. For more, visit Kessler’swebsite.


“A nocturnal intruder at an archaeological dig site in England finds a parchment written in Hebrew script. Thousands of miles away, Semitic language expert Daniel Klein receives a blurred image on his mobile phone. But when he meets with the sender, he realizes that he has walked into an ambush.

Accused of murder, Daniel finds himself on the run, pursued by a ruthless ultra-orthodox Jewish sect that is determined to silence him. Aided by a Cambridge Professor of Archaeology and a beautiful Mossad officer, Sarit Shalev (who despite her Israeli name is of Irish origin), Daniel follows a trail of clues that takes him from London to Rome to Jerusalem, in a quest for the link between two of the Roman empire's most troublesome opponents: the ancient Britons and the Judeans.

But who are these ultra-orthodox Jews trying to stop him? And why are they being helped by a glamorous, antisemitic former fashion model, who seems to have jumped into bed with her ideological opponents? Could it be that what Daniel has stumbled upon is equally threatening to both sides? Or is it simply that venal motives have created strange bedfellows?

With the predators closing in on Daniel from all sides, he must keep his wits about him, as danger lurks in every corner - and it isn't clear who he can trust.”


Buried inside The Boudicca Parchments is a good (or at least okay) thriller with a touch of conspiracy and religious history woven in, not unlike what you’d expect from a Dan Brown novel. However, uncovering that story might be too much of a chore. I’ll hit on the three biggest reasons.

First is the number of typos, wrong words, and other side effects from inadequate proofing and copyediting. Virtually every kind of proofing issue I regularly see was represented, most many times.

Second is a tendency to say, “oh yeah, this happened too.” What I mean by this is when the narrator  tells us something that happened in a prior scene that we weren’t shown at the time, as in this example:

Before Sarit had rushed off after the phone call, she had told Daniel how to log on to her eMail. After she left, he had downloaded the witness statements and pathologist’s report on Costa that Dovi had retrieved and forwarded.

The oft overused rule of thumb to show, not tell, might apply here. However, even telling in a different place would have worked better. In a prior scene, Sarit received a phone call and rushed off. Saying something like, “Sarit gave Daniel instructions to log on to her eMail and to download the witness statements and pathologist’s report on Costa before rushing off …” would have covered the plot point, but in a more logical fashion. As done, it feels like an afterthought. Like the author realized, “oh yeah, I need to cover this, I’ll just explain it now,” rather than going back and reworking the prior scene to include it where it belonged. This leaves the reader thinking they’re purposely not being given what they need to know in some scenes or that the author doesn’t think they’re capable of remembering what happened before in the story, which segues nicely into my third major complaint.

This was the habit of giving the reader recaps of what had happened that we didn’t really need, as in a paragraph that starts, “So far, an artifact trafficker, two policemen and two thugs-for-rent had been killed. There had been two attempts on Daniel’s life, one on Sarit’s and one on Ted’s – as well as a kidnap attempt on Daniel’s sister or nieces…” There are times when reminding the reader of something that happened earlier might make sense in the case of a critical event that was likely to have seemed innocuous at the time. Even then, there are much more subtle ways to do that. But this kind of ham-handed recap isn’t needed. We’ve read this far and know what happened. Recapping like this for the reader insults our intelligence. Or maybe this shows a lack of confidence on the author’s part and he’s afraid that the reader sleep-read the book to this point. In any case, these summaries do nothing except slow down what should be a fast-paced read.

If you’re able to overlook or get past these things, there is a decent story here. At least I suspect so. But extracting it might take more effort than it’s worth.


Uses UK spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

An atrocious number of proofing and copyediting errors. These run the gambit from missing or wrong letters on words (true typos), homophone errors (the classics like two, too, and to, as well as one I hadn’t seen wrong before, confusing feint and faint), and issues with verb tense, among other issues.

Rating: ** Two stars

1 comment:

Walter Knight said...

TWO STARS! Adam is not going to be happy with you, and rightfully so you little jumping rodent that lives in the desert.

May a diseased yak squaut in your hot tub. May the winds of the Sahara blow a scorpion up your turban. May your only son become a Pointer Sister. May your favorite wife give mouth-to-mouth resusitation to the Denver Nuggets. May a swarm of gay chiggers open a disco on your grandfather.

I love you man, but I'm drawing a line in the sand on this one.