Review of The Einstein Prophecy, by Robert Masello

Indiebound/Barnes & Nobles/Amazon/Amazon Publishing

Synopsis (Product Description Taken from Indiebound):

As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock.

These mysteries may, in fact, defy or fulfill the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined.

From the mind of bestselling author and award-winning journalist Robert Masello comes a thrilling adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.

Review:

Reminiscent of the same semi-academic, quasi scientific, though mostly campy/supernatural fun contained in the classic Indiana Jones films, Robert Masello’s newest supernatural thriller, published by 47North, entitled The Einstein Prophecy is an exciting, adventurous, and mostly fun read that fans of page-turners with just enough realism, though some elements of the supernatural are bound to greatly enjoy. The story’s premise may seem, at first glance, entirely formulaic, especially if it is being compared with the classic Indiana Jones stories, yet the story’s main protagonist is not the infamous scientist Albert Einstein, but a seemingly mundane, though brilliant Art History professor Lucas, meaning that the story’s main character’s area of expertise surrounds having a firm grasp of the history of artwork. And already, this kind of aptitude for scholarship that already somewhat defies the firm boundaries of logic and the metaphysics makes him the perfect candidate for a mystery, involving a mysterious Egyptian relic that actually carries a rich legacy, firmly planted in Christian history. In some ways, that makes him similar to Indiana Jones, yet Lucas is definitely unique on his own as a smart, adept deducing art history professor, able to see the deeper depths found within artwork, and the mysterious story and legacy behind them that helps him to discern the mysterious purposes of artwork that presents itself to him, which seems to be ensconced in many other areas of style. His versatility reveals itself throughout the course of the story, providing readers with a surprising protagonist who doesn’t seem too predictable, or traditional of an adventure story protagonist at any point.

Robert Massello incorporates many such opposing, contrasting elements in his story, from science/religion, logic/supernatural, metaphysics/”real” physics, all of these things create a tense mood, which is where a lot of the tension stems from for the main part of the novel. Plus, even the characters themselves are contrasting in their histories, for example, the main studious,inquisitive Art History professor may be seen as a war hero, earning honorable discharge from the army, during the second World War, but his one mission is shrouded in secrecy, for it involves the mysterious object that lies at the core of this plot.  Then there are other characters that emerge from the shadows, as the story progresses, and this mysterious object finds itself in the least likely of places: Princeton, New Jersey.

With this enigmatic object’s arrival in the most mundane of academic settings, that is where the story really picks up pace quite quickly, as alternating perspectives between Lucas, a brilliant Egyptian scholar by the name of Simone, and even Einstein himself. The story moves along at a brisk, unalterable pace, though sometimes snags itself into some less interesting corridors that are either not as well-developed, or at least for myself, not as interesting, as the larger, more fascinating elements of the novel, especially when they relate more with the story’s core plot about the mysterious object, and the curious reasons as to why the Third Reich, or the Nazis, were particularly mystified with the object.

The novel is at its best when the author, with a shrewd amount of finesse, balances the many interweaving subplots that somewhat converge towards the end in perhaps too tidy of a manner. Sometimes, the characters are less characters, and become caricatures, particularly Simone, who at points in the story somewhat suffers from the trope of the anomalous “strong-independent female,” who must exist in a mostly male world of academia, and she just happens to be so undeniably brilliant that she has been able to coexist as the odd-one-out in a mostly male world. Of course, she hardly has any interaction with other female characters, which causes her to fit into the strong, independent female trope far too much at times. Nonetheless, I did really like her as a character, even with this predictable dimension to her character. You cannot help but love her craftiness, and unquenchable love and wonder for mystery, even when her character presents herself more as a “been there, done that.”

Another weakness is as mentioned before the fact that there are junctures in the novel, involving scenes that just don’t cohere well with other elements, some of the discussions as to the metaphysical element, while fascinating in of themselves, don’t quite fit in with the rest of the novel. Other times, some of the side characters don’t really serve that important of a role, meaning they seem like a bit of a waste of page space. This sometimes crimps on the speedy alacrity of the novel. It’s a guaranteed page-turner in the end, written mostly in a competent fashion, that even with these weaknesses, still manages to greatly entertain. For the most part, Robert Masello’s novel The Einstein Prophecy succeeds as mostly a great, one-time read, serving the need of entertaining you for as long as it last with just enough nuance with respects to the metaphysical/philosophical questions it dabbles into to remain somewhat interesting during its short-run, but beyond that, some of its more forgettable elements keeps it from being a truly great, memorable read. Still, most readers are guaranteed to be entertained throughout the whole story, making it the perfect page-turner, especially with the looming hurricane for those of us along the East Coast. Of course, it’s a story that is perfect for any time of the year, anytime you need a reliably good page-turner.

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