Archaeological findings often bring the dead back to life and in many cases the truth to light as well. When Dr. Gerald Hanson receives an early morning phone call from one of his colleagues, Frank Tones, urging him to make haste to an old dig on Nubia, Hansen is immediately intrigued. Frank was known to have done some questionable things, but he is always able to find unexpected treasures during his excavations.
At fifteen, Gerald's son Michael is a bit of a prodigy, extremely intelligent, and becoming quite skilled in martial arts. He has been raised on archaeology digs, and is comfortable with them, but he does not like or trust Frank. After his mother death a few years previous, he has turned more towards religion, and his relationship with his father has strengthened.
Witty and jovial, they make their way to Nubia, only to find themselves in a land devoid of luxuries. Gerald is concerned with Michael's safety, Frank is not always on the up and up, but even so, Gerald is quite interested in his find. When they reach the camp, they find an unexpected visitor. Dr. Mardle, Director of Archaeology and Anthropology for Oxford is also there. A comrade and close friend to Frank he is visiting for a game of chess. Frank assures Gerald that the information he has will not be shared with Mardle, but when an argument ensues a bit later, Frank refuses to even talk to Gerald until morning.
For Gerald and his son, it is an eventful morning. Frank Tones is found dead of an apparent snake bite, but there are questions. Could it be murder? The cabbie that drove Gerald and Michael from the airport is dead in an apparent overdose. In addition, Gerald feels as though they are being followed. Called in to put together Frank papers for transport, Gerald discovers part of the secret Frank was planning to share. It deals with a religious secret that has been missing for thousands of years. However, he must leave it all behind; he cannot put Michael in further danger.
Fast-forward fifteen years, Gerald has died of an apparent heart attack several years earlier. When Franks daughter, and an old girlfriend of Michael's stops by to let him know she will continue the investigation into her father's death, Michael is determined to go with her. Diagnosed with cancer, she only has months to live. She disappears before Michael can prepare, and he is left to worry and wonder. When she too is found murdered, Michael knows he must put a stop to the madness. What is the secret that is worth the lives of so many men and women? Michael is determined to find the answers. With the help of a young librarian named June, Michael races against time to find the clues and the killers before his life too is at risk.
In The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown, we meet some marvelous and well-developed characters. Dr. Gerald Hanson is a father first and archaeologist second, and Brown has drawn an exceptional story line around his repartee and interplay with his son. He is an intelligent and funny person, and father and a widower who lost his wife. You can feel his loss and yet you can feel his guilt as well. Brown has drawn a character so true to life he seems real. I was devastated when the years move forward and he died of a heart attack. I felt his loss deeply.
Michael is a wonderful and courageous man. He lost his mother in a horrible way, and later his father. He has turned to religion and has written many books on his theories, and though it all he maintains his fitness through martial arts. It was something he did as a child and remained a form of comfort for him as he grew. He is funny and kind, and yet he pushes women away. Always feeling that those he loves, die early, he does not allow anyone to get close. Somehow, June makes it through, but even then, he continues to keep her at arm's length. He is thoughtful and sometimes temperamental, with just enough flaws to make his character immanently human.
I would recommend this book for the suspense and thriller fan, it is full of action and verve, but it is also peppered with religious and historical facts as well. You will be drawn deep into the Middle East religious communities, and brush shoulders with the Mossad and the CIA. The characters are audacious and charismatic, drawing you into the story. This would be a marvelous book for a reading group. It is fast paced and hard to put down, a must have for your library.