Synopses & Reviews
A literary page-turner about one man's quest for an ancient mystery through the perilous streets of modern London.
Walter Rothschild has nothing but his work. Estranged from his wife and adult daughter, he spends his days and nights lost in translation constantly working and reworking the riddles inscribed on ancient funereal stones. A gifted American Egyptologist, he was hired by the British Museum in London to try to crack the code of one of the greatest remaining hieroglyphic mysteries the Stela of Paser. Stuck, with no new inspiration, he meets a seductive young woman who seems interested in him and his work. When Walter invites her back to the museum to get a closer look at his work, she secretly steals an antiquity and disappears. Thus begins Walter's frantic search to repair the damage he's caused. Threatened by villains real and imagined, Walter races against time to win back the antiquity and his reputation, without losing his life in the process.
Utterly original and told in electric prose, this is a novel that beautifully weaves together exceptional insight into the inner yearnings of men with a fast-paced plot about ancient mystery and modern conspiracy. Ingenious, witty, and compelling, it is a novel to be savored and urged on all of your friends.
"Walter Rothschild, a middle-aged Egyptologist at the British Museum, has abandoned his wife and child to spend his time obsessively poring over the dusty inscriptions of a dead civilization. He is forced to reconnect with life when he is seduced by a mysterious woman who then steals an ancient papyrus containing the key to the enigmatic hieroglyphics of the Stela of Paser. The conspiracy trail leads Walter to a modern-day cult of the Egyptian sun god, Aten, protected by a menacing team of pro wrestlers. In Bondurant's ambitious debut, a sprawling picaresque is infused with mythic resonance by linking it to ancient Egyptian literature and mythology and to concepts in avant-garde physics, including black holes, general relativity and string theory. The author has an inventive imagination and an ardent feel for place; much of the book is a prose poem to London's squalid demimonde. Though some may feel that Bondurant's erudition and philosophical engagement ('the only way...to make sense of the magnitude of the time and the space and the span of humanity on earth is to grasp onto the one thing that gives you a clear look') slow the pace of his mystery, the success of previous literary novels of suspense bodes very well for this one. Agent, Alex Glass. (Apr. 6) Forecast: A big push by Hyperion should give this a shot at major sales, though it's not the only mysteries-of-the-ancient-world thriller in the running (in this issue, see also The Geographer's Library, p. 222)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Bondurant's] extensive research has paid off in a literary page-turner whose characters are as compelling and complex as the Stela itself." Booklist
"Archaeology outshines the action." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n impressive first novel about life and death and how we interpret each. It's not the next great thriller, but if you roll with it, you may just get more than what you'd expected." The Washington Post
"A compelling amalgam of history, mysticism, and suspense." BookPage
This literary page-turner follows an American Egyptologist on his quest for an ancient mystery through the perilous streets of modern London.
About the Author
Matt Bondurant began working on this novel while living and working in London, and finished it while employed at the British Museum, where he first saw the actual Stela of Paser and learned of its elusive and mysterious third translation. A professor at George Mason University and two-time Bread Loaf scholarship winner, his short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, the New England Review, and numerous other publications. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.