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The Last Ember

A Novel by Daniel Levin
Penguin, 2009

The popularity of Dan Brown's “The Da Vinci Code” has spawned a swarm of copycat novels, all based on some ancient mystery solved in puzzles embedded in Scripture, in Kabbalah, in ancient Buddhist texts and Vedic poetry, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Shakespeare’s plays, Mozart’s symphonies, Norse myths, Native American lore, Chinese martial arts moves, Charles Darwin’s family Bible, you name it, and a “Da Vinci Code” copycat novel has been written about it. There was even a web page that would allow you to create your own “Da Vinci Code” thriller synopsis from random stock elements required for this genre.

Daniel Levin’s “The Last Ember” begins in Rome, where antiquities legal expert Jonathan Marcus has been summoned to determine the provenance of some ancient stone fragments that once were part of a massive map of Rome. While examining the artifacts, Marcus discovers a hidden message carved into the stone, hinting at a mysterious secret concealed within the gates and underground passages of the Roman Coliseum. With help from his ex-girlfriend, U.N. archaeologist Emili Travia, and Mosé Orvieti, an elderly Holocaust survivor, Marcus realizes that the keys to solving the mystery are hidden in the manuscripts of Flavius Josephus, a first-Century Jewish historian.

Even as Marcus, Mosé and Emili uncover each new clue, a sinister terrorist who goes by the nom de guerre of Salah Al-Din is one step ahead of them. Emili suspects that Salah Al-Din is part of an insidious conspiracy to destroy priceless artifacts of Jewish and Christian significance. Following the clues left by Josephus, Marcus, Mosé and Emili know that they have to stop this terrorist before he can locate and destroy the most precious relic of all.

“The Last Ember” is a thrill ride, a stay-up-all-nighter, that beats Dan Brown at his own game, with an shocker of an ending straight out of Indiana Jones.

Although “The Last Ember” is fiction, at times far-fetched, it is based on the horrifying fact that priceless artifacts in Jerusalem are being destroyed on the Temple Mount by the Islamic Wakf. Archaeological treasures are defaced, strata ground up, and relics dumped like so much garbage. This part of the novel is absolutely true. Unfortunately, the U.N. in real life is less attentive to this destruction than Daniel Levin’s fictitious heroes.

This book is both entertaining and a means of raising awareness of the precious heritage that is being carelessly and deliberately obliterated on the Temple Mount.