by: Nelson DeMille
Review by: Mark Palm
When I first discovered The Quest was about the search for the Holy Grail, I thought I was in for another dose of puerile pap ala Dan Brown; but I was wrong. Whew! The Quest is tense and taut, and unwinds against the back-drop of the Ethiopian revolution and civil war of the 1970's. Three war correspondents, all well-drawn basic characters, stumble upon a dying priest, who starts them on a search for a whopper of a story.
Before they can begin their search they must first escape the collapsing country alive. DeMille shines here. He knows his facts and lets the danger and the squalor show without overkill. There are no superheroes here; people are scared, and they bleed and die. The novel loses a bit of steam when the reporters retreat to Italy to regroup; the background on the Grail seems forced, and a love triangle adds a bit of depth and color, but not much. The last part however, as the reporters, along with a British Colonel straight out of Rudyard Kipling, return to Ethiopia to begin their search, is a blast. The author shows us the danger of everyday life when a country collapses, and the tension keeps up until the end, where a spasm of violence is followed with the slightest grace note of mystery and faith.
Anyone tired of cartoonish thrillers where professors morph into secret agents should read this book, to see how to make a real thriller come to life and stay grounded at the same time.