The Samson Effect is an exciting mystery-thriller centered around one of the Bible's most memorable characters. When biblical archaeologist Thomas Hamilton discovers that the source of Samson's strength was not his hair, but instead came from a concoction brewed from a rare herb, he and his friend Michael Sieff set off to find what remains of this ancient herb.
Predictably, Hamilton and Sieff are not the only ones on the trail of the Samson effect. They are in competition with Jewish and Muslim sects, both of whom will stop at nothing to claim the prize. Also thrown into the mix is a group of protectors committed to defending the secret. The main characters quickly find themselves not only trying to satisfy their own scholarly interest, but seeking to protect the world from the dangerous consequences that would result from the herb falling into the wrong hands.
Eldridge spins an intriguing tale. The pacing is good, if a little frenetic at times. The mystery element is unraveled at a steady rate, and the premise is interesting and unique. The plot fits neatly into the present-day political climate. The setting is well-rendered, and the Old Testament references add flavor to the story. The Middle-Eastern locale, along with the biblical theme and fast-moving plot, puts one in mind of an Indiana Jones adventure. In fact, the story reads a bit like a movie, which can be both good and bad, but is generally good in this case.
On the downside, though the book is highly readable, the writing tends to be choppy at times. The main character is interesting, but the secondary characters, like so many in the genre, lack depth. Eldridge could afford to slow down just a bit and invest more in his array of characters without losing the good pace he has set.
Overall, The Samson Effect is a strong debut novel. Pick it up to get you in the mood for the forthcoming Indiana Jones movie, or just pick it up for a good read.