The Cairo Codex


This novel is two stories in one, with the main narrative set during the last days of Mubarak’s Egypt. Justine Jenner, a visiting American educator, inadvertently discovers an ancient codex which just happens to be the personal diary of Mary, the mother of Jesus. While working with linguists to decipher the writings, she becomes embroiled in plots by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Coptic Christians to destroy the codex and the knowledge it contains because of its threat to Islamic and Christian fundamentalist beliefs about the nature of Jesus and Mary. Interspersed are portions of Mary’s story, beginning with the reasons for her and her family to have left Judea for Egypt, certain events during their stay there, and the reasons for their being forced out of Egypt by the Romans. This in turn harmonizes with Justine’s being forced out of Egypt in the end due to her involvement with the codex.

The author shows a surprisingly in-depth, and even prescient, knowledge of modern Egypt and the conflicts between the Muslim Brotherhood and other segments of society. Perhaps due to her love of the place, having been stationed there herself, most of the first half of the book read like a travelogue. The plot doesn’t really kick in until halfway through the book. The main problem I had, though, were the plethora of historical/linguistic anachronisms in the “Mary” segments (i.e., personal and place names that could never have been used by people of that era). However, if one can overlook those issues, portions of the book are enjoyable, particularly in the last 150 pages or so.

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(US) $15.95

(US) 9781933512341




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