by Jay Amberg
Release Date: March 14th 2015
2015 Amika Press
Ebook Edition; 247 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from HFVBT
3.5 / 5 Stars
On a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea in Turkey, an international team of archaeologists discovers a stone box that first-century Jews used to rebury their dead. The box’s Aramaic inscription: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Sophia Altay, the beautiful French-Turkish archaeological who heads the team, tries to keep the discovery secret until she can authenticate the ossuary. She knows that people will kill to obtain the relics—and to suppress the box’s other contents, documents that could alter Western history.
Joseph Travers, an American sent to Turkey to evaluate the archaeological dig, soon finds himself pulled into the web of betrayal, reprisal, and violence. In his journey through Istanbul’s mosques and palaces, the archaeological sites around ancient Ephesus, and, ultimately, the strange and mystical terrain of Cappadocia, he comes to understand the epochal meaning of the bone box.
Bone Box is one of those novels that presents some rather intriguing ideas, one of which is the reaction of various religious groups to the discovery of an ossuary containing the bones of Jesus along with some documents that could change thousands of years of perception about certain religious beliefs. I did think the story was quite interesting, pitting character against character until I didn't know who to believe or who to trust, but I do have to admit there were times when the going was a bit slow and I found my thoughts wandering.
First of all, while I enjoyed the characters, I don't think I fully appreciated exactly the role Joseph was to play in Turkey. Joseph is one of those brooding types, still reeling over the death of his son, and blaming himself for the way things have gone in his life, forcing him to take long walks in order to calm himself. While I appreciate those walks, it's always during those walks that he seems to get into trouble; you would think after a while that he would learn to perhaps stay in his hotel for a while until the dust settles, so to speak. I am also not sure why he got into so much trouble all of the time; yes, I get the scapegoat thing, but I really feel it was used a bit too much in this novel and it got mundane. I actually thought Sophia was the most interesting character of them all and liked her more fiery personality as she seemed to have more life and vigour. She had a lot of secrets which were rather intriguing although perhaps a bit too many of her activities were left for the reader to figure out so it does get a bit muddled sometimes. Her passion, and through her, the author's, passion for archaeology definitely shows and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the various sites around Turkey. I've always wanted to visit Istanbul and Ephesus; now I've just added a few more places to my bucket list.
Bone Box is a novel that definitely had its interesting moments and the author was able to describe a lot of Turkey's culture through the actions of his characters and his descriptions of the area, which were quite enjoyable. The concepts in this novel were also quite intriguing and I did spend some time pondering how such a discovery would affect religious and political affiliations around the world, but it's so hard to anticipate such an event. The shorter chapters helped increase the tension surrounding the action, but I did feel that Joseph and many of the other characters simply went through the motions, some of which were predictable, without much character development. It's not that I didn't like the characters, I just didn't really connect with them, and that is important to me. The ending was not very clear cut however, so I am wondering if a sequel is being planned, something I would definitely read if it came out.
About the Author
Jay Amberg is the author of eleven books. He received a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD
from Northwestern University. He has taught high school and college students since 1972. His latest book, Bone Box, is now available from Amika Press. Amberg has also published Cycle, America’s Fool, Whale Song, and compiled 52 Poems for Men. Cycle, a novel giving unique voice to the world’s environmental crisis, is the winner of a 2013 Independent Publisher Living Now Book Award.
Prior to Amika Press, Amberg published thriller novels Doubloon (Forge), Blackbird Singing (Forge) and Deep Gold (Warner Books).
Among his books on teaching are School Smarts and The Study Skills Handbook, published by Good Year. Amberg wrote The Creative Writing Handbook (Good Year) with Mark Henry Larson and Verbal Review and Workbook for the SAT (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) with Robert S Boone.
For more information and to contact Jay Amberg, please visit his website.