Newest Review: ... in the Valley of the Kings alarm bells start ringing in his head about an old case especially when his boss tells him to leave it alone.... more
And no super injunction was needed
Last Secret of the Temple - Paul Sussman
Member Name: mjc121
Last Secret of the Temple - Paul Sussman
Advantages: well written, good climax over the last 150 or so pages.
Disadvantages: takes far to long to really get going
In 70 A.D. the Holy Temple of Jerusalem is being besieged by the Roman army. Their aim is to take the treasures back to Rome - and kill everyone inside. The High Priest rescues one person, a boy who now carries a secret that he must guard and keep with his life...
The present day in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt a body is found in the ruins of the ancient city. What seems to be a simple open and shut case for Yusuf Khalifa sets the ball rolling on a mystery which is almost 2000 years old and getting this wrong could be a danger not only to him but to the whole of the Middle East. Can he put all the pieces together in time - especially as some of them appear to be missing....
Yusuf Khalifa - an Inspector with the Luxor police. The only thing that appears to be more important to him than his job is his family. Highly intelligent and does not always take the easiest route - much to the irritation of his boss. As he looks into the case of the dead body found in the Valley of the Kings alarm bells start ringing in his head about an old case especially when his boss tells him to leave it alone.
Layla al-Madani - A reporter with a Palestinian paper. She is seen as one of the leading pains in the bum by the Israeli authorities. She is able to get stories that no other reporter either has been able to or have the guts to get. A letter she has recently received has her puzzled, it would have the leading experts of the Sunday Times cryptic crossword puzzled but she can't resist the temptation to investigate it.
Arieh Ben-Roi - detective in the Israeli police whilst he gets the job done his methods of doing so could be questioned . A heavy drinker and is plagued by the memory of his fiancée who was killed just days before they were to be married. Not getting the best cases anymore and his only desire left is to make those who killed his beloved Galia pay.
What I thought of it:
The copy I have is the paper back 'half size' version (if that makes any sense) and has 694 pages to the novel excluding the glossary.
Whilst the first few pages give some historical background to the rest of the novel (from the siege of the temple to the present day) the rest of the story takes a while to get going. In fact it first appears to be three completely unrelated stories and the way the novel has been done it appears to jump from one to the other so you can lose track quite easily. For me this, despite the book not exactly being badly written, made it rather heavy going. Whilst the three seemingly unrelated stories to begin to tie together it takes almost half of the book for the ends of them to begin to cross each other. This jumping about and the slow start almost had me giving up before I made it to page 100 but the will to find out what the 'secret of the temple' was kept me going with it.
The book is written in the third person and has been well constructed but more importantly written by someone who appears to know the historical subjects the novel is loosely based on. The book has a glossary at the back of the novel which describes and translates some of the Hebrew and Arabic words used in the novel which, as I only speak English (with a bit of pigeon Italian), found very helpful.
The book, thankfully, isn't packed out with so many secondary characters that you don't know whether you are coming or going but as some only get mentioned every 100 pages or so and even then only in passing it can cause a bit of the age old problem of flicking back through the book to find out who the heck that person was again. However, most do add to the main plot of the novel in one way or another
The main plot and the sub plots do work well together but I feel one of the more minor sub plots which really just acted like an additional story within the main one could have been left out without taking anything away from the novel at all. I feel that at the end it was simply being used to provide an opportunity for the horror of all horrors - the sequel (Ok I know some sequels work but many don't). The book, when it finally does get going, does have a few very cleverly done twists in it. Some are fairly obvious, if you had concentrated on the book enough, whilst others sort of hit you like a 20 lb sledge hammer. It is really the last 150 pages or so where the suspense is built up but really after the major climax of all the problems the three characters have gone through the ending (which came another 20 or so pages after this) I felt was a bit of a let down.
The novel is well written but is far too slow to really get going and I found I had to be patient with it. Normally if a book hasn't really got me into it by page 100 it gets put down here I did keep going - mainly as it was the only book I hadn't read that I had with me. For the climax of the 'secret of the temple' it was worth reading but I feel the same effect could have been gained with half of the 'fluff' such as the big parts of the two police inspectors family life and Layla's childhood memories being cut out. Whilst some of it is important a lot of it just seemed to be padding. Although it wasn't badly written it isn't a book I would read again. Despite the fact I rarely read a book more than once (photographic memory for book plots) this novel wouldn't even make the short list of ones I would consider to re-read.
for the way it is written and the ability to use good twists I would normally give it 4/5. However, as it took far too long, in my opinion to get going I have taken one mark off (aren't I a stinker?)