Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Jerusalem Puzzle by Laurence O'Bryan

The Jerusalem Puzzle is Laurence O'Bryan's second book. It follows on from The Istanbul Puzzle published last year when the characters of Sean Ryan and his girlfriend Isabel Sharp were introduced, and is to be concluded in The New York Puzzle. It is however a stand-alone novel and you do not need to have read The Istanbul Puzzle to follow the story.

Starting out in the UK, Sean and Isabel hear that Susan Hunter of Cambridge University, who was working on a translation of manuscript they had found in Istanbul, has been kidnapped after travelling to Jerusalem. Also, an archaeologist Max Keiser has been found dead in suspicious circumstances. Unable to trust the investigation to the authorities, Sean and Isabel leave for Jerusalem to try to get to the bottom of the mystery.


Jerusalem turns out to be a city where everyone seems to know where you are. With the different religious quarters sitting side by side, O'Bryan manages to convey the atmosphere of the narrow lane ways and ancient buildings, of different religions and nationalities as well as tourists all moving about together. Helped by contacts in embassies and through Sean's specialist academic credentials they manage to open some doors but this does not guarantee safety and there are several major setbacks.

On top of all this there are outside prevaricators who are conspiring to bring about war in Israel. The revelation that Susan Hunter has translated could cause an international incident and the meaning of a particular 'glph', a square with a line in it is carried through the novel.

Author Laurence O'Bryan has written a tight and gripping adventure story. The characters have their own personal histories to bring to the story that adds depth and credibility. His research from visiting Jerusalem, as is seen from photographs and commentary at the end of the novel, shows through in the accurate description of the claustrophobic alleys of the old city, the arid rock strewn valleys outside Jerusalem and the border crossing points. You are taken from significant historical sites to modern 5 star hotels. Visiting a city in a novel is often more satisfying that reading a guide book and in this novel you certainly feel you have experienced the sights and sounds and suspicions of Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Puzzle is published by Avon, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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