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01 November 2013

Alan Gold & Mike Jones: Bloodline

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A fascinating novel of Israel - past and present
Bloodline is a fascinating contemporary story about modern Israel intertwined with a past history of Israel.  I read the prequel "A Turn in the Road" which was interesting but really didn't prepare me for what the first book in the Heritage Trilogy was about.

The preface has this quotation ""Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." Bloodline is a story of about absolute faith and absolute power throughout the ages in in Jerusalem and the Middle East. It also introduced me to a strange radical Jewish sect, the Neturei Karta, who believe that that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Jewish Messiah. In this story their belief is so strong that some of their followers team up with the Palestinians to try to bring down the State of Israel.

The contemporary story starts with Bilal HaMizri, a young Palestinian under the influence of a radical cleric who tells him that he has been chosen for a special purpose - to get close to the Wailing Wall, so revered by the Jews, and explode several bombs. He is told that he will enter Paradise and live forever in green fields surrounded by 72 virgins. After killing a guard Bilal is chased, and shot. He tries to detonate the bombs but only the detonator works. He finishes up in hospital and not in Paradise, holding in his hand an ancient seal from the first Temple.

Bilal is taken to hospital and Yael Cohen, a young Israeli Surgeon, operates on him and saves his life. Because they both share a very rare blood type she unwillingly finishes up giving him a blood donation. Being puzzled by the rare blood connection she sends his blood for a DNA test and is stunned to find that it shows that Bilal has a strong family relationship with her. What is even more puzzling is that her family came to Israel from Russia many years ago and she doesn't know of any family connections with Palestinians.

The story interweaves with the past in an almost scholarly description of the history of Israel from the days of King Solomon to those of the brutal Roman occupation during and just after the birth of Christ. The story follows each generation in an almost Edward Rutherfurd pattern, focussing on Jerusalem and the building and demolition of temples on the holiest place on earth for the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and gives a detailed and vivid history of Jewish occupation of Jerusalem during those troubled times. The seal is the connection between the past and the future.

Alan Gold and Mike Jones have combined seamlessly to create a very different kind of story to the ones I usually read which kept my attention throughout. It is a very unusual debut epic thriller moving across the ages and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy when it is completed. Highly recommended for someone who wants to read a completely different type of thriller and learn a lot of history in the process.

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