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The Temple Mount Code by Charles Brokaw
Review by Mel Jacob
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765328717
Date: 08 November 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Reviews have compared Thomas Lourds, a linguists and Harvard professor created by Charles Brokaw, to Indiana Jones. He rushes headlong into his work and adventure without a second thought and sometimes finds himself in danger of losing his life. In the third Thomas Lourds mystery, the Temple Mount Code, Lourds travels to the Himalayas to investigate a cryptic map found at an archeological dig in China. However, while there a message from an old friend, Lev Strauss, reaches him asking for his help. When Lourds reaches Lev's apartment in Jerusalem, he learns his friend has been murdered.

Initially, Lourds discovers a map on a turtle shell. The map leads to the Temple of Scholars in the Himalayas where he discovers an ancient burial site of Chinese people who fled an ancient Yellow River flood. His discoveries are earthshaking and all over the media. Then the message from Lev arrives.

With no idea what Lev wanted, Lourds begins the search by following clues Lev left for him. Meanwhile three government spy agencies want the objects Lev sought and trail Lourds. Lev believed a lost book and scroll created by Mohammed exists and lies hidden somewhere. He fears the Iranians will use it to unite all Islamic factions and pursue a worldwide jihad against the West and especially Israel.

Attacks on Lourds and others raise the stakes, but Lourds refuses to back off. The Iranians are determined to locate the treasures and to wage jihad on the West. They will kill all infidels. Having failed to get Lev, the Iranians contract with an Austrian nationalist who deals in assassinations and arms deals to capture Lourds and obtain the objects.

Not a killer or even a fighter, Lourds is a fast runner and a lover. His gallantry and curiosity place him in danger. Still, it stretches credibility when Lourds and a trained Mossad agent are captured in circumstances they should have anticipated. A similar event occurs much later and still Lourds gets caught. He never learns caution.

The women are strong, but still fall prey to Lourds boyish charm. The wife of the Austrian arms dealer is clever at times and incredibly stupid at others. With the exception of their susceptibility to Lourds, the women provide interesting fictional role models.

The villains are evil, predictable, and easy to wish dead. One exception is a Saudi agent who kills without difficulty, but is determined to keep Lourds and what he seeks out of Iranian hands. Plenty of action keep the pages turning. Lourds does not change and grow as a person, but moves from one puzzle and one woman to another. Brokaw provides plenty of action and narrow escapes to keep the reader in suspense.

An entertaining read, but the novel is similar in many ways to others of the same thriller genre such as Dan Brown. The two earlier Lourds adventures, The Atlantis Code and the The Lucifer Code, received wide acclaim.

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