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The Last Ember

by Daniel Levin


I was enthralled from the first page of this book—so many historical facts thrown together into a novel, with a mystery on top!† Daniel Levin is a very talented young writer, and yes, you could say it shows that he is young and that this is his first book, but he has a really great start on his writing career.† This book is a step up from many by authors who have a lot more experience writing thrillers. He trumps them all through his extensive, fact-based historical knowledge of the era about which heís writing.

The hunt starts beneath the Colosseum, in the labyrinths of Rome, where a very important discovery is made.† The author goes back and forth between two places and several different people, which sometimes gets a bit confusing and might make one have to re-read a prior bit to make sure it was remembered right; but this is because the bookís topic is so deep and complex that sometimes itís necessary to split things into several parts to make a whole.† Overall, I was very impressed by the context and his ability to keep it all together.

Jonathan Marcus is a lawyer and eminent classic scholar whose first love is archeology.† This is most likely a reflection of the true character of the writer, who himself shows a very deep understanding of classical church history.

The search that Marcus becomes involved in is for a huge, 2,000-year-old, solid gold Menorah that came from Herodís Temple.† He runs into a past girlfriend, who coincidentally is a UN Preservationist and antiquities expert, and almost immediately turns into that kid again, the one who loved to get his hands dirty while on the hunt for the past.

I love the Mediterranean area and its richness of history and Levin captures all of it in this book. There is a great greedy treasure hunter in the form of Sheik Salah ad-Din, who wants to destroy this wonderful and symbolic Menorah and remove any and all references to Jewish and Christian history and presence from the Temple Mount.† This book has many of the same attributes as The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, and other books in the same genre. However, I personally think that Levin has it over many of the other writers in terms of factual content.† He has spent many years researching and studying his subject, and it shows.

The story is fast paced and interesting and the facts bolster any shortcomings of the basic story. For those looking to have a large dose of reality in their fiction, this is the book for you.† I loved The Last Ember and am looking forward to more from this author.

Of course, those of you who read the reviews that I post will automatically know that this book is going to be one of my favorites, because I love this type of book.† I think it is wonderful when a writer really knows his subject matter, and makes it of much more important than lesser parts of the actually story, so that the facts support the fiction.

The Book

Riverhead Books / Penguin Putnam
August 6, 2009
159448872X / 978-1594488726
Archaeological Thriller
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The Reviewer

Claudia Turner VanLydegraf
Reviewed 2009
© 2009