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The Last Ember

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Jonathan Marcus was a promising young archaeologist studying at the American Academy in Rome, when a terrible accident during an illegal excavation resulted in a friend's death and Jonathan's expulsion from the academy. Jonathan abandoned archaeology for the law, developing a reputation as a skilful advocate for some of the art world's less scrupulous antiquities dealers. When his firm sends Jonathan to Rome to discredit the testimony of a prominent UN antiquities official, he's stunned to discover that the expert is Dr Emili Travia, a friend and fellow student at the academy who was also at the excavation. This chance reunion prompts Jonathan, against his better judgement, to help Emili as she searches for the fabled Tabernacle Menorah, a priceless historical artefact seized by Roman invaders in the first century AD and brought to Rome, where it disappeared. As they scour the ancient sites of Rome for hints to the menorah's whereabouts - deciphering clues to its location left by ancient spies and 18th century art restorers - it quickly becomes clear that they are not alone in their quest. What follows is a treasure hunt like no other, a race to find the menorah in order to control a historical perspective of who can define - and redefine - the past.
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Da Vinci Code addicts will enjoy Levin's debut, a dense, complicated novel of religious suspense. Jonathan Marcus, classics scholar-turned-lawyer, is sucked back into his former life in archeology after becoming involved in an antiquities theft case his law firm is handling. A few minutes in the presence of a chunk of the ancient Roman Forum and a reunion with an old girlfriend from his student days, Dr. Emili Travia, and Jonathan is ready to cast off his three-piece suit and return to unearthing ancient subterranean mysteries. The prize this time is the 2,000-year-old Tabernacle menorah, eight feet of solid gold stolen from Herod's Temple in Jerusalem and hidden somewhere in Rome. The forces of evil are represented by Sheik Salah ad-Din, who seeks to find and destroy the menorah. The fevered pace slows only to deliver a multitude, perhaps too much of a multitude, of interesting historical factoids. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Despite a promising future, Rome Prize Scholar Jonathan Marcus is disgraced, driven out of academia into law (mirroring the debut author's own career trajectory). A decade later, he is summoned back to Rome to assist with a case involving a stone fragment of an ancient map. Marcus recognizes the fragment-and its surprising connection to his doctoral research. From Rome's Forum to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the nonstop action pits Marcus against his firm and his schoolmate/romantic interest-turned-adversary, Emili, in his quest for the long-lost Tabernacle Menorah. Verdict Following in the footsteps of such authors as Dan Brown and Katherine Neville, Levin gives an ancient history and religion tutorial while weaving a thrilling plot. Readers who enjoy artifact-seeking books with behind-the-scenes tours of real sites will be captivated. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/09.]-Laura A.B. Cifelli, Fort Myers-Lee County P.L., FL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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