Reviewed by Ed Sarna.
Bone Box by Jay Amberg is a fast paced thriller reminiscent of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The story centers on the discovery of possible religious artifacts that, if legitimate, could threaten the foundation of early Christianity. A team of archeologists, headed up by beautiful French-Turkish archeologist Sophia Altay, uncovers an ossuary, a stone box that first century Jews used to rebury their dead. The discovery takes on added importance when the inscription on the box leads them to believe it may hold the remains of Jesus of Nazareth.
Sophia is concerned that when word gets out, people will try to stop the authentication of the remains for any number of reasons. Before she can act on her concerns, the contents of the box disappear. There are people connected to the excavation that may or may not be whom they seem. Into this mix comes Joseph Travers, an American dispatched to Turkey to evaluate the operation and make recommendations to those funding the dig. Before long, he is pulled into the action and races against unknown forces to find and protect the remains. While trying to retrieve the contents before they are damaged, destroyed, or fall into the wrong hands, Joseph and Sophia, working together and separately, become embroiled in deception and murder.
The cast of characters is well developed and nuanced. Our perception of who is good and who is not changes over the course of the book. Just as we think we understand what is going on, the plot twists and we have to question our original assumptions. Along with the fast moving plot and well-defined characters, the locations become another integral part of the story. On one hand, the nicely detailed descriptions of the cities and the countryside made me feel as if I were travelling well-trodden ground. On the other hand, there is also the feeling that we are strangers in a land with its own rules, rules that often make no sense. Foreboding builds and we are never really sure whom to trust, which adds to the anxiety level. Surprises continue all the way through to the end, but even then, we are left contemplating what just occurred and what may follow.
I enjoyed reading Bone Box and am anxious to catch up on Mr. Amberg’s other thrillers. This book should appeal to readers of action packed stories, including fans of Dan Brown and other authors of religious thrillers.
Jay Amberg received a BA from Georgetown University and a PHD from Northwestern University. He has taught in both high school and college, and is the author of eleven books, a number of which are also thrillers.