The Labyrinth of Osiris
In a relatively short period of time, Paul Sussman has established himself as a reliably masterful thriller author, presenting hefty novels of consequential depth that juggle a number of riveting plot threads without losing track of any of them. With his fourth and best novel to date, Sussman should take his place on the must-read lists of those who value plot and characterization in equal measure.
THE LABYRINTH OF OSIRIS features another collaboration between the somewhat unlikely team of Jerusalem police detective Arieh-Ben Roi and Egyptian policeman Yusuf Khalifa. Ben Roi is investigating the murder of investigative journalist Rivka Kleinberg in an Armenian church. At the time of her murder, Kleinberg was working on a story, but no one seems to know precisely what it was. Ben Roi, convinced that her violent death is related to her investigation, attempts to join a number of seemingly unrelated threads and follow them back to their source. Meanwhile, Khalifa, still reeling from an overwhelming personal tragedy, is investigating what appears to be the deliberate poisoning of the agricultural wells of Coptic Christians on the edge of his jurisdiction.
"With his fourth and best novel to date, Sussman should take his place on the must-read lists of those who value plot and characterization in equal measure.... Come to THE LABYRINTH OF OSIRIS for the grand concept, but stay for the characters and remember them."
The investigations of the two law enforcement officials slowly begin to dovetail when reference is made to a legendary Egyptian goldmine --- the Labyrinth of Osiris --- spoken of in the ancient works of Herodotus, among other places. Obviously the relevance of the legend to the investigation is called into question. And while elements of the plot move from Vancouver to Romania to Houston, the main focus of the story is within the troubled territories of Israel and Egypt, where two very different men find common ground in their attempt to bring a killer to justice, even as both are deterred in very different ways, from different sources within their respective organizations.
I re-read the last few concluding pages --- twice --- to see if I had misunderstood them or missed something. When I discovered I had not (nothing changed), I might have gotten a little misty-eyed. But don’t tell anyone. To obtain the full effect of the ending, however, re-read the last 75 pages or so. There is redemption, nobility and friendship, and all of the right stuff that makes us human beings. Sussman is a strong and confident craftsman; though the plot is multilayered and complex, one never gets the sense of being lost or confused for even a moment during the course of the book’s events, which occur primarily in the present but that are based in great part, as so many things are, upon the events of the past.
Come to THE LABYRINTH OF OSIRIS for the grand concept, but stay for the characters and remember them.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 10, 2013