The Gershom Scroll by Stuart Fifield. A Review by Neil A Waldock

 

 

 

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Rupert, the young archaeologist, returns in this superior sequel to Fatal Tears, the first book in the series. Set a year later, Rupert and his army medic boyfriend Stephen Hopkins have settled into co-habitation in London until “Uncle Cecil” sets them off on their next mission.

Evidence has been unearthed suggesting that a “Gershom Scroll” exists stating the Jewish claim over Palestine. The British want to find it first so the duo embark on a Middle-Eastern treasure hunt under the guise of travel guides. In a time when much of the Middle-East and Africa was governed by European powers, the political undercurrents Fifield writes about here show a changing world in the pre-WWII years.

If all of this sounds a bit heavy going, fear not. While Fifield relishes educating the reader on history, in particular about Petra, he doesn’t forget to entertain as well. Yes, this story is very British. Yes, it is an old-fashioned adventure. But more than anything this book is fun to read. There are plenty of diplomats with long-winded funny sounding names and stuck-up tourists. The standout is Claudette Catzmann, a Jewish “chanteuse and cabaret star” from the East-End of London, of which “the most important thing lacking in her act was talent”.

While Rupert’s rather bland character remains so, Stephen’s comes to the fore, although I did get tired of hearing about his “throbbing stump” every five minutes. Fifield also doesn’t give away ” whodunnit” by Chapter 2 as he did in Fatal Tears, and so the suspense remains until the end of the book.

So find a camel and hop on for a journey to the sands of Trans-Jordan.

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