The Last Ember by Daniel Levin

lastemberFiction — print. Riverhead Books, 2009. 415 pgs. Borrowed from my mom.

I borrowed this book from my mom due to its subject matter — Italian antiquities, illegal artifact digging in Jerusalem, museums possessing stolen artworks. In Levin’s novel, former classics scholar turned lawyer Jonathan Marcus accidentally discovers a hidden message carved inside a client’s fragment of an ancient stone map.

The discovery reunites him with a college friend, Dr. Emili Travia, on a perilous journey from the labyrinth beneath the Colosseum to the biblical-era tunnels of Jerusalem in search of a hidden 2,000-year-old artifact sought by empires through the ages.

Another book that started out strong but ended flat. Surprisingly, I was more interesting in the main character and his past than solving the mystery of the artifact. The main character’s time as a doctoral student and why he was kicked out the program is only one aspect of this mystery novel, but it was certainly the most interesting part to me. I would have thought the meshing of ancient history with revisionist history and archeological terrorism would have been the most interesting aspects. Unfortunately, no.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what didn’t work for me with this book. I just reached the point where I realized I wasn’t nearly as invested in solving the mystery as I should be. It was hard to follow to storyline and I just wasn’t absorbing information as I should be. I also wasn’t having fun and that’s my biggest requirement for mystery novels.

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