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Publisher's Summary

April 2003: as the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities is looted, a teenage Iraqi boy finds an ancient clay tablet in a long-forgotten vault. He takes it and runs off into the night.

Several years later, at a peace rally in Jerusalem, the Israeli prime minister is about to sign a historic deal with the Palestinians. A man approaches from the crowd and seems to reach for a gun; bodyguards shoot him dead. But in his hand was a note, one he wanted to hand to the prime minister. The shooting sparks a series of tit-for-tat killings that could derail the peace accord.

Washington sends for trouble-shooter and peace negotiator Maggie Costello, after she thought she had quit the job for good. She follows a trail that takes her from Jewish settlements on the West Bank to Palestinian refugee camps, where she discovers the latest deaths are not random but have a distinct pattern. All the dead men are archaeologists and historians - those who know the buried secrets of the ancient past.

Menaced by fanatics and violent extremists on all sides, Costello is soon plunged into high-stakes international politics, the worldwide underground trade in stolen antiquities and a last, unsolved riddle of the Bible.

©2007 Jonathan Freedland; (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London UK

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  • Overall

Barely redeemed by the narrator

The narrator of this book has a lovely mild Irish accent and I could listen to her all day. She also did a fair job of Jewish, Arabic, American and English accents as well, so it's hard to know what she really sounds like especially as the main character (Maggie) is Irish. So she kept me listening. Good job she did, and good job also that this is abridged, because what you have here is thriller writing at it's absolute worst. No engagement, no emotion, no "I can't wait to hear what happens next". I just wanted it to end, or a nuclear war to start - it might have livened things up a bit. All the women are slim and beautiful. Emotionless laughable Mills and Boon sex happens, with bodice-ripping and electric shocks and everything.Most of the cast ends up dead, shot, tortured or wounded and sadly you don't even care. There is an attempt at puzzle-solving but this is no Dan Brown historical reconstruction. The coincidence that surrounds the main object of the story is quite stupid, and the attempts to stop the listener knowing what it means are puerile. A shallow understanding of middle east politics pervades the book and irritates continuously. I listened to this just after finishing John Grisham's "The Firm". The contrast couldn't have been starker. Guess which I prefer. One to miss.

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  • P1977
  • 08-26-16

Predictable but okay for a freebie.

This is a largely implausible story, frustrating in its rather dim characters and predictable outcomes. It's okay but no intellectual challenge.