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by Paul Sussman

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2041-0
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Taut, entertaining archaeological murder mystery–meets-spy thriller by genre-meister Sussman (The Hidden Oasis, 2009, etc.).

Unless you’re a Minotaur, you’re intrigued by labyrinths. Unless you’re way high up in the Illuminati or the Trilateral Commission, you harbor an endless fascination with the question of who really rules the world. Just don’t ask too many questions, or you’ll wind up like Rivka Kleinberg, silenced for getting a little too close to the answer to what the pharaohs of old have to do with latter-day powerbrokers of international finance and petroleum. If you’ve got to have bad guys, the Russian Mafia do nicely. As for the good ones, there are Sussman’s stalwarts, Jerusalem cop Arieh Ben-Roi and his Egyptian pal and counterpart, Yusuf Khalifa, an unlikely pair of heroes. Both deliver results, though, Khalifa on his side of the line, and Ben-Roi on his (“OK, maybe he didn’t always play things by the book, was a bit too free with his fists and a bit too loose in his interpretation of what was strictly permissible in the name of law enforcement”). Yeah, but that’s Chinatown—er, the souk, that is. Sussman’s story is not without its longueurs, but it moves along well enough, and there’s some good thrills-and-spills stuff along the way. Moreover, there are at least three big pluses to the story: First, while unlikely cop pairings are old hat (see Hans Hellmut Kirst’s 1963 novel The Night of the Generals, for one), it’s good to see a nonhackneyed collaboration between Arabs and Israelis. Second, while Sussman’s setup leaves wide openings for all the clichés of the whodunit genre, he doesn’t indulge. And Sussman, a trained archaeologist, knows his stuff—and how to make a reader jump, too.

A mayhem-rich view of the world through the eyes of mummies and villains, and a lot of fun.