Book Review: The Babylon Contingency

16 Feb

641209Investigating a burglary at an English country house, Detective Chief Inspector Robbie Peele comes face to face with one of the most mysterious objects in world archaeology, the Phaestos Disk—and with the Middle Eastern terrorist cell determined to steal it.

The vital clue is a long abandoned Muslim village in Crete, where a Victorian gentleman explorer witnessed horrors that were meant to be secret and recorded what he saw in coded diaries. Seeking the truth about the Phaestos Disk, Peele and his assistant, Sarah Shipton, are on the cusp of solving the mystery when they are caught in an ancient Egyptian burial chamber during an earthquake.

In the end Peele has to ask far harder questions than simply who committed the original burglary. The origins of the Phaestos Disk are inextricably bound up with the Middle East peace process in ways that frustrate and astound him.


Clifford Longley is an author, broadcaster and journalist who has specialized since 1972 in the coverage and analysis of British and international affairs. For twenty years he wrote a weekly column in The Times. He now contributes to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 and appeared regularly on The Moral Maze.

My Impressions:

I like to read/review books for Kregel/Lion Hudson because their British novels explore subjects and describe culture much different than those found in American Christian fiction. And while they often include some profanity and adult subject matter (this novel does) also not found in their American counterparts, they usually have a Christian worldview that I can agree with. That’s why I signed up for the blog tour of The Babylon Contingency by Clifford Longley. I must confess I have mixed feelings about this book.

DI Robert (Robbie) Peele thinks he is following up on a routine break-in at a manor house when he is plunged into a case complete with international terrorists, shadowy manipulation by intelligence agencies, a centuries old archaeological find and a plot to bring down the state of Israel. Whew, that’s a lot for a Metropolitan Police detective! Along the way he encounters archaeologists with conflicting motives and allegiances. The back cover blurb assertion that archaeology is dangerous is spot on.

I really would not characterize The Babylon Contingency as Christian fiction. The reader will be hard pressed to find any characters who are Christians, let alone live their faith. There is one archaeologist who is a semi-practicing Catholic and one who is a Jew turned Catholic turned Jew turned . . . .  You get the picture. Most characters are atheists or agnostics or just-don’t-think-about-its. The worldview that Moses didn’t exist and that the Bible is a book of myths is their starting point in informing their world. This is the part I found most intriguing about the book. It provides insight into how those in the scientific/secular world view fundamentalist (that’s how evangelicals are described) Christians and their religion of delusion and deceit. I did not get the impression that the author believed this as well, just that he was describing what a very vocal interest group believes. For that I would recommend reading this novel. The mystery took a while to develop, but once the characters travel to Crete and Egypt, the action takes off. Robbie Peele is a good detective, if a bit world-worn and cynical. Other characters are interesting, yet are motivated by their own selfish desires or ideologies. Not really any that I could relate to or want to know.

An interesting read, but . . .  The Babylon Contingency is not one I would pick up again.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE. It is currently $1.99 for Kindle.


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