Jonathan Marcus, an American lawyer is sent to Rome by his law firm to examine and authenticate a client's fragment of a stone map. He is a former disgraced doctorate candidate specializing in the biblical era. Upon examination he finds a hidden message carved inside the stone. He presents his findings in court against his former colleague and lover, a UN preservationist, Dr. Emili Travia.
After the case Emili and Jonathan start to dig deeper and deeper into the past. They are driven into a more and more perilous route, from a labyrinth under the Colosseum to the ancient tunnels of Jerusalem. They seek a 2,000 year old eight foot menorah. A terrorist group wanting to eradicate this symbol of freedom is close on their trails every step of the way. They get help from a old rabbi in Rome who explains the story of a possible Jewish double agent, Josephus Flavius who managed against all odds to possibly save the menorah when Jerusalem was razed by the Romans. This menorah according to legend has been kept lit throughout eternity. Jonathan's doctoral thesis was about Josephus Flavius.
Unfortunately I know little of the Roman and Biblical region of Jerusalem and found myself a little bogged down in trying to understand the geography, politics and religions of that era. But this is a wonderful thriller and full of information. I had no idea of the destruction going on under Temple Mount and the complexity of the jurisdiction of Temple Mount. I also loved the spy intrigue of Josephus Flavius.
Political intrigue, archaeology, religion and pulse-racing thriller is what awaits the reader. It is like a one stop book buffet.
First Line: "Why have I flown here? Jonanthan Marcus asked the chauffeur, raising his voice over the winter rain."
The Last Ember at Chapters