Investigating a break-in at an English country house, DCI Robbie Peele comes face to face with armed burglars seeking some of the strangest objects in world archaeology, ancient clay disks inscribed with an unknown alphabet. A Middle Eastern terrorist cell is determined to steal them. Why? And why are Mossad involved? The vital clue is a long-abandoned Muslim village in Crete, where terrible things happened, witnessed by a Victorian explorer who left coded diaries. But Crete poses as many puzzles as it solves. What do the disks really say, in what language, and who made them? And why is the answer stirring up the Middle East?
The Phaistos Disc is a fired clay disk which is covered on both sides with unknown symbols stamped in a spiral. It was recovered from an archaeological site in Crete at the start of the twentieth century and is currently housed in a museum on the island. But what if more than one existed, and what if similar disks were discovered in a dusty store room in England after a break in? What would the discovery mean for Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
The Babylon Contingency looks to be the first novel by long time journalist Clifford Longley. The premise is certainly interesting, but I found it never quite lived up to its promise. The action starts immediately, but it didn’t get my heart going. I don’t feel I got emotionally invested until a major event near the end, and I was actually surprised that I felt anything at all. I didn’t understand much of the linguistics discussion, even after doing my own research. I think I only just understood the plot and the motives. Thanks to my own background, I did understand British cultural references and language that I call “English-English,” but this is definitely a book targeted at a British audience.
This is not a Christian novel, although it’s distributed in the USA by a Christian publisher. It’s not exactly anti-Christian either. Peele is an agnostic-leaning atheist, who doesn’t look favorably on any form of religion. His opinions are often criticized, however, by his Jewish colleague. Christians may be offended by some of the novel’s content. There are the murders, of course. But there’s also adultery, same-sex relationships, drinking, swearing, and blasphemy. These are all very real aspects of a culture that isn’t perfect.
What can I say in conclusion? The plot is jumbled in many places, there are many different law enforcement and espionage agencies, and not everyone is what they seem. The author had good ideas, but I think he included too much. Was this about terrorism, or ideology, or history, or all three, or just an international burglary case? The ending is inconclusive. Perhaps it was written that way intentionally, but I didn’t find it satisfying. I’d invested too much too come away with such a small reward.
Thank you to Lion Hudson for the electronic copy of The Babylon Contingency, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Have you read The Babylon Contingency? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Lion Hudson (a division of Kregel Publishing)
Publication Date: 17 October 2014
Page Count: 336
Read more on: Lion Hudson’s Website