I got this book from the library when I happened to see it a couple weeks ago because I am interested in the author. Jane Jensen is a game designer – best known for the Gabriel Knight series of adventure games. She currently heads the independent game studio Pinkerton Road, which has a completely new business philosophy – community supported gaming (based on the model of farm shares and community supported agriculture). I had reasonably high hopes for this book – she is adept with character and dialogue, her games are very well-researched and rooted in history and a sense of place. The only books of hers that I had read, the two Gabriel Knight novelizations, were decent (the second one, The Beast Within being less tied to the exact elements of the game and therefore better than the first, Sins of the Fathers). I hoped that in a non-game-related novel, her prose style would be more well-developed, and I was looking forward to a historically-situated thriller-type book with a moderate fantasy/sci fi twist.
And that’s what I got, for the first 225 pages. It unfolds slowly at first, mixing elements of mysticism and a pinch of sci-fi. Four characters – a particle physicist, an Orthodox rabbi, a flaky tabloid journalist, and an agent from the Department of Defense – are closing in on a secret discovered by Yosef Kobinski, a physicist and rabbi who wrote a kabbalistic manuscript in Auschwitz and then disappeared. This manuscript contains a fundamental truth that could be used for spiritual enlightenment, but could also be adopted to create a uniquely dangerous weapon. Each storyline unfolds on its own, but just as they begin to converge and things seem to be perfectly situated for a cross-European, gun-swinging, action-packed second act, the book takes a complete left turn and turns out to be about something else altogether. Continue reading