Sussman, Paul - 'The Last Secret Of The Temple'
Paperback: 720 pages (Jun. 2006) Publisher: Bantam ISBN: 0553814052
Off-duty Detective Inspector Khalifa of the Luxor, Egypt Police is exploring with his son in the Valley of The Kings. He is trying to instil into his very reluctant son some of his own fascination for the subject of archaeology when they are interrupted by the discovery of a body of a dead European amidst the ruins. Khalifa has to leave his son and return to being a police detective in this fast moving and multi-layered story by Paul Sussman.
Khalifa discovers that the elderly dead man was a former fugitive Nazi Officer suspected of war crimes. The detective is required to forget his own natural antipathy towards Jews, as he needs to liaise closely with an Israeli Detective in order to research the background to the dead Nazi.
The Inspector is disturbed by the parallels between this case and an earlier murder he had worked on many years before, when he was a young novice detective but where he had always believed a miscarriage of justice occurred. Because he was so junior, he felt too embarrassed to speak out against his superiors at the time and had always regretted this.
Whilst investigating this, references are made to Nazi Holocaust survivors, Nazi loot, English Crusaders, Cathar massacres in France, and events in Egypt and Austria. The novel's time frame moves between events in AD70, 1944 and the present day without any artifice.
The author paints a fascinating picture of the present day Palestinian/Israelis conflicts and this creates a very engrossing story that keeps you turning the pages. The characters he describes in very learned descriptions often using Arabic or Hebrew words (there is a glossary in the back) which seem very realistic and emotional.
Whilst some other authors have covered similar story lines before I was very impressed by the very intelligent quality of this book which kept me guessing right up to the end and as it is only Paul Sussman's second novel I look forward to reading more of his future work in the years to come.
Terry Halligan, England