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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
304 pages
Sep 2008
Howard Books

The Bell Messenger

by Robert Cornuke

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The Bell Messenger, by Robert Cornuke is less like a novel than it is like several novellas tied together. The first part focuses on Jeremiah Tate, a Civil War officer who receives a Bible from a dying soldier and ends up rescuing Chinese immigrants working in California. The Bible is then passed on to a woman who loses her husband to a search for buried treasure, and then to her son, who continues the search for the treasure. Throughout the book are chapters set in 1980, where a college graduate goes on an elaborate genealogy hunt to discover the path that the Bible has followed.

The story reveals the foolishness of pursuing earthly wealth. The ending of the book brings to mind Luke 12:20: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” It encourages the cultivation of spiritual growth and interpersonal relationships over monetary gain.

The Bell Messenger reads quickly, with smooth text and short chapters, but there is not enough emotional or spiritual conflict to keep the reader engaged. The story contains several graphic depictions of violence, but is almost prudish on issues of sex and language.

Although it means well, The Bell Messenger ultimately fails to deliver, stretching itself thin across too many storylines and not investing enough time in developing the main characters. – Nathan Biberdorf,

Book Jacket:

A suspenseful yet touching story of a Civil war Bible that pops up again and again over a century and shapes the very history of the nation.

This rich and involving historical and archeological thriller begins as a Union soldier, Tate, shoots a Confederate preacher known as the Bell Messenger and is bequeathed a worn Bible by the dying man. Tate's historical narrative parallels the contemporary story of John Brandon, who has just graduated college in 2000 and received the very same Bible, unearthed in a Saudi Arabian cave, as a gift.

The potent history of this book is revealed as Brandon searches for its previous owners, along the way uncovering the existence of a mysterious cache of gold hidden during Old Testament times -- which brings shadowy figures hot on Brandon's heels, hungry for the gold and desperate to learn the new clues he possesses.

As the past and present intertwine, the reader learns that this Bible has passed through many hands over the years. From the Civil War to the building of the Central Pacific Railroad, to the gang wars and the holding of Chinese slaves in nineteenth-century California, to the trenches of World War I, Brandon learns of the lives this Bible has saved, the deaths it has caused, and the history it has changed forever.