Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: The Babylon Contingency by Clifford Longley

Investigating a burglary at an English country house, DCI Robbie Peele comes face to face with one of the most mysterious objects in world archaeology, the Phaestos Disk - and with a Middle Eastern terrorist cell determined to steal it. Why - and why are Mossad involved?. The vital clue is a long abandoned Muslim village in Crete, where terrible things happened more than a century ago, witnessed by a Victorian gentleman explorer who recorded what he saw in coded diaries. Seeking the truth about the Phaestos Disk, Peele and his assistant, Sarah Shipton, are on the cusp of solving the mystery when they are caught in an ancient Egyptian burial chamber during an earthquake. In the end Peele has to ask far harder questions than simply who did the original burglary - the answer to which infuriates him. What does the Phaestos Disk really say, in what language, and who made it? And why is the answer so dangerous to peace in the Middle East?
Over the years, I've greatly enjoyed books by Dan Brown and Steve Berry, and from the sound of the summary, this was my kind of book.

In The Babylon Contingency, DCI Peele is called to investigate a burglary at a Manor. While there, he spots another burglary in progress. As he and his colleagues continue the investigation, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary burglary. International organizations are interested in what the thieves are after, and what they represent, for one reason or another. Are DCI Peele and his team in over their heads?

I rather enjoyed the topic and theme of the book. The objects at the center of the novel are vital because of what they could mean to Islam, Judaism, Israel and Palestine, especially. It's not exactly a religion-centered novel. It's more equal parts archaelogy, politics and religion. That's why it helps to have at least a basic understanding of history or at least a cursory knowledge of recent events in the Middle East.

Today's media (news, movies, shows, etc.) tend to focus on extremists to the point that some people assume that all people from that religion or who look like they could be of that religion are automatically bad people. That's why I appreciate that this book makes it clear that there are moderates too and people who denounce what these extremists do in the name of their God. The book also has characters that are all for Christianity, Judaism and Islam coexisting peacefully, which I am all for.

The action starts off right away, but for me, the tension and suspense is at a simmer for most of the book, with occasional heat spikes here and there. It isn't until about 3/4th or 4/5th of the way through the book that the action boils over. I loved the plot twists at the end. I wasn't too sold on the villain, funnily enough, but everything else about this book was great for me. There are some things here, however, that may be controversial in the sense that authorities tend to deny they happen or downplay it, but personally, I think these things are possible, and not just in the conspiracy theory kind of way.

As for the characters, I liked DCI Peele and Douraid. DCI Peele, who also serves as the narrator, has the same sense of humor as I do and I liked that his tone was different from the other detectives I've read before. He's like Sam Spade but portrayed by Colin Firth, if that makes sense.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lion Fiction for the e-ARC.


  1. It doesn't demonize any religion.
  2. It's able to deftly mix archaeology, politics and diplomacy.
  3. It has an interesting premise.


  1. Perhaps it's because I've been desensitized by watching CNN too much, but I didn't truly fear the main villain.


  1. You're fascinated by the Middle East and its politics.
  2. You've wondered if the events of the Bible could be real.
  3. You believe that religions can exist in harmony.




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