Matt Bronleewe,
House of Wolves
(Thomas Nelson, 2008)

After introducing him in the novel Illuminated, author Matt Bronleewe brings the character of rare books dealer August Adams back for more adventures in his second novel House of Wolves. The first novel focused on the Gutenberg Bible. The ancient text this time around is The Gospels of Henry the Lion, a book that supposedly held secrets regarding the whereabouts of many religious relics. The Nazis apparently stole it but now, more than 60 years after the end of World War II, the book has ended up in August's hands.

August received the Gospels from his father, who stole it from a group known as the Black Vehm. This ancient, secret society had been attempting to learn the secrets of the Gospels. Apparently some of their rank were members of the Nazi SS. Hitler supposedly went looking for the relic known as the Spear of Destiny -- the spear that pierced the side of Jesus while he hung on the cross. Are there clues in this book that will lead August to this ancient relic? If he finds it, what powers will it possess?

The only way to find out is to join August, his father, son and ex-wife as they race for their lives with the Vehm right on their tails. Sometimes they are a step ahead, sometimes one behind, but we know the trail will end with an amazing discovery or revelation. With religious mysteries, solving ancient puzzles and nonstop chase scenes, a reader might be reminded of Indiana Jones or The Da Vinci Code. While there are differences, there is certainly a sense of "been there, done that" with this novel.

Bronleewe not only writes novels, but has a background producing, writing and playing music. He was born in Dallas, Texas, raised in Kansas and lives in Tennessee. He will spend the time necessary to research background for his novels; in this case, he focused on The Gospels of Henry the Lion -- a tome more than 800 years old. He does admit that he took "fictional license" with what has been described by some as "the most dangerous book in history." Bronleewe still works in the music scene and is working on his third August Adams novel, The Deadly Hours.

I have read several books in the Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code vein. I would put House of Wolves right in the middle of the pack. This is not a bad novel by any means and can stand on its own if you have not read Bronleewe's Illuminated. It has some original chase scenes, puzzles to figure out and religious mysteries to discover. But I've followed the same formula enough times now that it just doesn't seem fresh to me any more. Did I enjoy House of Wolves? Yes. Was I wowed by it? No. I thought this book was a perfect read for an airplane (which is where I read it) -- enough of a plot to maintain my attention, but light enough not to require 100 percent concentration.

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review by
Wil Owen

30 May 2009

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