THE DISCOVERY by Steve Shagan


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Comic-book archaeology and an international murder-fest: those are the primary ingredients in this new thriller by the author of The Formula--which offers a silly but reasonably lively mix of violence, sleuthing, and quasi-theological brouhahas. At Ebla in northern Syria an archaeological team, with gorgeous Italian epigrapher Gabriella, has found evidence of an ancient civilization--including a slew of cuneiform tablets; the Syrians aren't too pleased, however, when Gabriella's deciphering suggests that the modern-day Syrians were ""descendants of ancient Hebrew tribes."" Even more of a potential bombshell: the Ebla writings give vague directions to the whereabouts of a tablet ""inscribed by Moses setting forth the last word of God""--some message so awesome that Moses withheld it from the Israelites! Furthermore, three gold triangles from the Ebla dig--vital clues to the Moses tablet's location--have disappeared!! And then the murders begin. First fatality: Bel Air's Laura Sorenson--wife of CIA-connected Dr. Martin Sorenson, a major backer of the Ebla dig. Could Laura's grisly killing be connected to those missing triangles? That's the question for L.A. cop Jack Raines (who just happens to be Laura's ex-husband). Then all the backers of the Ebla dig start dying or disappearing--including mysterious Sorenson, whose mutilated torso washes up from the Pacific. So Raines is soon heading for Italy and Syria--to team up with Gabriella (romantically too), to hunt for those gold triangles (one of which is gotten from a Syrian official who wants to defect). And finally, with all three triangles in their possession, Raines and Gabriella can lead the Israel treasure-hunt to the ""archaeological time bomb that will destroy theological and historical facts confirmed by generations of scholars"". . . with a not-very-satisfying solution for all those murders. (The motives are the usual assortment of greed and ambition.) Very weak on the much-belabored theology, slightly better on the digging, and cruddy reliable when it comes to murder/action: a hectic, foolish mishmash, but varied and likable enough (Raines and his motherless daughter provide sentimental moments) for painless escapist-reading.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow