Book Reviews

Review Rating

With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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A Wall in the Darkness by Jon Land

Reviewed on: June 1, 2001

Tom Doherty Associates, New York
2000 (pb)

The premise of Jon Land’s political thriller A Walk in the Darkness is one that has been utilized by any number of popular writers:  What if archaeology presented artifactual evidence that put in question the resurrection of Christ?  Some of the better variations on this theme include Daniel Easterman’s Brotherhood of the Tomb, Paul Maier’s The Skeleton in God’s Closet, and Piers Paul Read’s On the Third Day.

Land’s approach to this plot line is well conceived and while it is not exactly a learned treatise on archaeological excavation techniques in the Holy Land, it is a fast-paced thriller with interesting and likeable characters and plenty of twists and turns.  The story begins in 1948 when a group of archaeologists working in Turkey are slaughtered after unearthing an artifact of unknown but obviously very great importance.  The action fast-forwards to the present day and another mass murder of archaeologists, this time in the Judean desert.  The protagonists, Israeli police detective Danielle Barnea and Palestinian detective Ben Kamal, join forces to solve the tangled web of intrigue that winds backward in time from the present day powderkek that is the Middle East to the founding days of the state of Israel to the day of the crucifixion of a Galilean carpenter’s son.  Land introduces terrorist cadres, unscrupulous oilmen, and even Vatican assassins into the mix, but further stirs the cauldron by enmeshing the two police detectives in a love affair, a situation not viewed favorably by even their friends and allies, much less their enemies.

Make no mistake.  A Walk in the Darkness is a potboiler, but a well written one that was perfectly made for a good summer afternoon read at the beach.

Twenty Years in the Trenches: Archaeology in Fiction

William Gresens, longtime MVAC supporter and volunteer, has been writing reviews of archaeological fiction as MVAC’s book reviewer for twenty years.  In this interview Bill shares how he got started writing reviews for MVAC, how the genre has changed, highlights, and his thoughts looking forward. 

Bill Gresen’s Book Review 20th Anniversary

While Bill's reviews go back 20 years now, his relationship with MVAC goes back more than twice that long! The reviews capture some of the things we enjoy most about Bill-- he's perceptive, methodical, a clear thinker, and a whole lot of fun! We look forward to this relationship--and Bill's reviews!--continuing for many years to come.

The March 2021 review marks the 20th anniversary of reviews of archaeological fiction.  It has been my pleasure and great fun to while away the hours reading these books—for the most part, at least—and writing the reviews!  My thanks to MVAC allowing me to prattle on and I look forward to the years ahead.

Bill Gresens