Monday, February 16, 2015

The Babylon Contingency by Clifford Longley

This novel is a combination of a murder mystery and an archaeological mystery. The novel had great potential but I have to admit I was disappointed in it.

The premise was intriguing. DCI Peele investigates a break in (and later murder) at an English manor house. In the course of his investigation he confronts armed burglars and discovers a hidden collection of ancient disks containing an unknown language. Further investigation shows these disks are related to the famous Phaestos Disk. Peele and those he gathers to solve the murder mystery travel to Crete and other places to understand the origin of the disks and thereby understand who wants them enough to kill for them.

The novel is complex. There are many locations visited by Peele and his group. There are many characters involved at each location. Some of the characters are double, or maybe even triple, agents so the action is very complex as well.

I found out there is a real Phaistos Disk, discovered in 1908 on the Greek island of Crete. Scholars think it dates back to around 1700 B.C. and the height of the Minoan civilization. The premise of this novel is that the recently discovered disks may undermine the origin of the Old Testament. The disks predate Moses and the Exodus. Maybe these disks show that Moses, or later editors, really stole their material from an older civilization and just adapted it to Israel and their Jehovah. If that is the case, then the promise of Palestine to the Israelites would be bogus.

Peele and many others in the novel are atheist (or at best agnostic) and are very critical of Christianity. Several dialogs in the novel dismiss the possibility of any actual historicity to the Old Testament account. In this respect, the novel seems to follow in the foot steps of The Davinci Code. There is a great deal of conjecture and surmising by characters in the novel. Seeds of doubt about the authenticity of the Bible are liberally sown.

There is no author note indicating which items and events in the novel have their roots in history. This is a serious oversight by the publisher, I think. I did my own research to find out the the Phaestos (Phaistos) Disk is real. I would have liked to know if the story about the Greek village and its Jewish/Muslim history had any basis in fact.

The denouement is long, indicating to me that the plotting was not done sufficiently so that the average readers could figure out some of what was going on while reading.

The novel is from Lion Hudson of England and is distributed in the U.S. by Kregel, a Christian publishing house. I do not expect all Lion Hudson books to be overtly Christian. I was disappointed in the conjecture and surmising that undermined the historicity of the Bible. There is also the inadequate writing style and a lack of understanding what Christians and Jews actually do believe. All of that to say I wouldn't recommend this book.

Clifford Longley is a broadcaster and journalist specializing in British and international affairs. He contributes to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 and appears regularly on The Moral Maze.

Lion Hudson (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 329 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Post a Comment