The Moses Deception, the latest from Stephen Mertz, is a high energy, entertaining chase novel with a unique premise. An eleventh commandment—from a fragment of the original tablets shattered by Moses when he descended Mount Sinai—is discovered on the war-torn border between Turkey and Syria. The discovery threatens the status quo and more than a few powerful individuals and groups are willing to kill to keep the discovery hidden since the new commandment has broad implications for the three major world religions; Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.Adam Chase and Lara Newton are leading an archaeological dig on the arid desert site of what they believe is “an ancient proto-Israelite settlement” from “the second millennium BCE,” which could offer evidence that the Biblical story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt is historically accurate. When the Turkish military security detail attached to the dig is ordered away, the archaeologists are forced to abandon the site. As the rest of the dig team decamps, Adam and Lara are enticed to a cave where an ancient box is hidden. Inside the box are stone fragments containing God’s eleventh commandment and the discovery sets in motion a violent and harrowing journey for the two archaeologists.
The Moses Deception is an absorbing, action-oriented thriller. Its prose is cinematic: crisp and clear without distortion. The storyline, especially its impetus, is unique and the action moves across Europe—from Turkey to the Vatican to Berlin to the Swiss Alps—with a well-paced shimmer. The characters are heroic and evil with enough in the middle to keep things interesting. A billionaire, Buckeye Calhoun, who is bankrolling the expedition, is exactly what I imagine Ross Perot to be. Eccentric as hell, but likable in a good ole’ boy manner. A few big ideas are discussed without stalling the story and a nicely executed climax left this reader smiling and wishing for more.