Barney, whose 2011 debut The Genesis Key imagined a historical conspiracy involving the discovery of genes that control longevity, returns with a Bible-based thriller about ancient stones with the power to bend time.
In 1959, a secret government experiment supervised by a prominent German scientist in an underground laboratory in West Virginia went terribly wrong. It was such a calamity, the Eisenhower administration did its best to erase any traces of it from history. When, in the present, a strange man with overgrown nails and hair, a heavy German accent and a stomach wound shows up in a town not far from where the feds set up shop, he quickly draws the attention of a waitress who is sure she has seen him before. The man, who calls himself Malachi, goes off in search of a certain church to which someone has directed him via esoteric clues. U.S. government agencies are quickly on his trail—as are cutthroat Russian industrialists in cahoots with a compromised Nobel Prize–winning British physicist. They're eager to cash in on what a government agent refers to as "the antigravity stuff that the Nazis were supposed to be working on at the end of the war." The Nazis were happy to find that pieces of stone, not divine intervention, caused the parting of the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to escape Egypt—a case of science trumping religion. Barney commands a large cast of characters well enough, and he sells his premise with conviction. But the author is unable to turn the material into compelling reading.
If, as one of the scientists in this book puts it, "Einstein himself was confounded by this material," the reader is merely underwhelmed.