Two people with the knowledge to uncover a significant relic in Egypt may be at the mercy of wealthy but dangerous men in Luzzatto’s (ExtraLife, Inc., 2013, etc.) thriller.
Israeli engineer Dan Ze’evi’s meeting with Andrey Leskov doesn’t go quite as expected. The Russian billionaire isn’t interested in a standard business deal but rather wants to buy 51 percent of Dan’s tech company. Dan has little choice since his company is broke. But there’s a catch: Leskov will return Dan’s shares and let him keep the $2 million from the sale if he agrees to help with a project in Egypt. Leskov’s initially mum on specifics, as is graphic designer Claire Williams, joining Dan on the excursion. Turns out the project started months ago when Claire met archaeology professor Jack Jones, a former KGB agent who has the key to a booby-trapped box that contains the staff of Moses. He’s somehow impressed into Claire’s mind the key to opening the box, while Dan knows the box’s location, stemming from an event decades earlier he doesn’t immediately recall. The stakes climb once Leskov’s rival, Egyptian millionaire Mahmood Bshari, enters the picture. He’ll do whatever’s necessary to disprove the staff’s origin—or destroy it. Luzzatto’s globe-trekking tale maintains a searing pace, starting in Italy and making a pit stop in Tel Aviv before reaching Cairo. Jack’s cryptic key is at first an enigma; readers only know he’s used a type of hypnosis on Claire. What he’s done, when finally revealed, is outlandish but logically sound. Danger lurks for the couple, as at least one henchman makes a point with his fists, as well as exhilaration: who’ll retrieve the staff, if anyone, is a persistent question all the way until the end.
A gripping story that maintains its momentum with an array of surprises and imperiled characters.