Palestinian Police Inspector Bayan “Ben” Kamal, born on the West Bank but raised in America, where his family was slain by a serial killer, again teams up with beautiful Chief Inspector Danielle Barnea of the Israeli National Police in this follow-up to The Walls of Jericho (1997) and The Pillars of Solomon (1999). Like its predecessors, this otherwise formulaic mystery is distinguished by sidebars on Arab-Israel conflicts, not to mention the Montague-Capulet heart-tuggings. Kamal and Barnea’s new assignment was set in motion by a conspiracy born two thousand years ago; it results in the pair being threatened by undercover killers as well as undermined by their respective governments. Does the dark secret turn on post-Crucifixion hocus-pocus? What was in the small chest uncovered in 1948 by an archaeological team at Ephesus? Why would Rome be so interested? And when the chest was recently found again, why was the American archeological team (including Kamal’s nephew) murdered? More to the point: Will the chest’s secret satisfy or flummox the reader? And just how odd is it to compose an Arab-Israeli novel about Christ?
One from the heart, we guess.