It’s like reading Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – but on steroids.
Ava Fischer is an American graduate student at Harvard. She’s proficient in a few ancient languages and history, art, the early church, and a few other subjects. She’s called one morning by an old boyfriend, Paul Grant, who makes her an offer she can’t refuse. He’s working for a wealthy international celebrity and they’re on an archaeological dig, searching for the lost jars of the wedding at Cana, the jars that contained the water Jesus turned into wine. The jars are believed to contain a prophecy of the end times.
And they may have found them. They need an expert in ancient languages and Paul immediately thought of Ava. Ava eventually accepts and flies to Yemen, a first stop before crossing the Red Sea to Egypt. But before she gets there, Paul sees his boss seemingly gives orders to shoot several local workers, and he flees in a truck, with the jars.
That’s the calm part of The Cana Mystery by David Beckett. From that point on, the action never stops. Ava eventually connects with Paul, and they travel across Egyptian desert, up the Nile to Alexandria, to Malta and then Italy, chased by villains determined to kill them no matter who else has to die in the process. What’s at stake is the fulfillment of the prophecy, and the belief of a shadowy figure that he is destined to assume control of the world.
The story seems almost wildly improbable, and yet reading it is almost like reading today’s news. Beckett juxtaposes his story against the real events of the resignation of Pope Benedict and the eventual election of Pope Francis. And the book is chock full of supplementary narratives of others who have tried to decipher the prophecy of the jars, and short lessons in church, medieval and Renaissance history (Ava is one amazing scholar).
Ava and Paul, assisted online by Ava’s friend and computer nerd/hacker Gabe and a mysterious online acquaintance of Gabe’s, dodge arrests, assassins, and explosions. They’re living through an experience where villains turn out to be friends and friends can be villains and a thug with a gun can be around every corner. And Ava and Paul just may be rekindling their old romance.
Published by Tuscany Press, The Cana Mystery is not only an entertaining story, not allowing the reader to rest to find out what happens next, but an educational one as well, full of historical research about the history of the church.
But I’m still catching my breath after reading it.
Painting: The Marriage at Cana by Gerard David, circa 1500; The Louvre, Paris.