Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Last Secret of the Temple - Book Review

The Last Secret of the Temple
by Paul Sussman
Random House 2005

From the Back Cover
A two thousand year-old mystery – a pulse-pounding race against time...

Jerusalem, 70 AD. As the legions of Rome besiege the Holy Temple, a boy is given a secret that he must guard with his life...

Southern Germany, December 1944. Six emaciated prisoners drag a mysterious crate deep into a disused mine. They too give their lives to keep the secret safe: murdered by their Nazi guards...

Egypt, Valley of the Kings, the present day. A body is found amongst some ruins. It appears to be an open-and-shut case but the more Inspector Yusuf Khalifa of the Luxor police uncovers about the dead man, the more uneasy he becomes. And his investigation turns out to be anything but routine. Khalifa doesn’t know it yet, but he is on the trail of an extraordinary long-lost artifact that could, in the wrong hands, turn the Middle East into a blood bath. It’s a dangerous path he’s taking – and what’s more he’s not alone.

From ancient Jerusalem, the Crusades, Cathar heretics and coded medieval manuscripts to the Holocaust, hidden Nazi treasure and the murderous present-day, The Last Secret of the Temple is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of an adventure.

When the body of hotel owner Piet Jansen is discovered amid the ruins of an archaeological site by the Nile, it looks like a routine investigation for Inspector Yusuf Khalifa. But the more he learns about Jansen, the more he is reminded of the brutal murder, some years earlier, of an Israeli woman at Karnak for which he always suspected the wrong man was convicted. Ignoring the objections of his superiors, Khalifa re-opens the case, but to do so finds he's obliged to team up with bigoted, hard-drinking Israeli detective Arieh Ben Roi.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Palestinian journalist Layla al-Madani receives an anonymous letter. The writer claims to possess information that could radically alter the balance of power in the Middle East and requests her help in contacting Al-Mulatham, a ruthless terrorist leader whom she recently interviewed. In return she is offered the greatest scoop of her career, which, she is told, is intimately connected with the strange medieval manuscript that accompanied the letter.

Against a backdrop of escalating violence, Layla follows up the ancient cryptic document while Khalifa and Ben-Roi uncover the unpleasant truth about Piet Jansen.

Their investigations take them from ancient Jerusalem, the Crusades and the Cathar Heresy to Vichy France and the Nazi Holocaust. Forced to confront their own prejudices and demons, they unearth the existence of an ancient artefact of such symbolic power that, were it to fall into the wrong hands, it would plunge the Middle East into all-out war. Caught in a desperate race to recover the object before Jewish or Muslim extremist groups claim it as their own, the trail leads Khalifa, Layla and Ben Roi to a hidden cache of looted Nazi treasure. Deep within an abandoned mine in Southern Germany, Khalifa discovers that appearances can be terrifyingly deceptive.

This was an exciting book - I could not put it down. I read this for the Relic Novels Challenge.

No comments: