Tom Doherty Associates, New York
The premise of Jon Land’s political thriller A Walk in the Darkness is one that has been utilized by any number of popular writers: What if archaeology presented artifactual evidence that put in question the resurrection of Christ? Some of the better variations on this theme include Daniel Easterman’s Brotherhood of the Tomb, Paul Maier’s The Skeleton in God’s Closet, and Piers Paul Read’s On the Third Day.
Land’s approach to this plot line is well conceived and while it is not exactly a learned treatise on archaeological excavation techniques in the Holy Land, it is a fast-paced thriller with interesting and likeable characters and plenty of twists and turns. The story begins in 1948 when a group of archaeologists working in Turkey are slaughtered after unearthing an artifact of unknown but obviously very great importance. The action fast-forwards to the present day and another mass murder of archaeologists, this time in the Judean desert. The protagonists, Israeli police detective Danielle Barnea and Palestinian detective Ben Kamal, join forces to solve the tangled web of intrigue that winds backward in time from the present day powderkek that is the Middle East to the founding days of the state of Israel to the day of the crucifixion of a Galilean carpenter’s son. Land introduces terrorist cadres, unscrupulous oilmen, and even Vatican assassins into the mix, but further stirs the cauldron by enmeshing the two police detectives in a love affair, a situation not viewed favorably by even their friends and allies, much less their enemies.
Make no mistake. A Walk in the Darkness is a potboiler, but a well written one that was perfectly made for a good summer afternoon read at the beach.