The Book of Stone examines the evolution of the terrorist mentality and the complexities of religious extremism, as well as how easily a vulnerable mind can be exploited for dark purposes.
Matthew Stone has inherited a troubling legacy: a gangster grandfather and a distant father—who is also a disgraced judge. After his father’s death, Matthew is a young man alone. He turns to his father’s beloved books for comfort, perceiving within them guidance that leads him to connect with a group of religious extremists. As Matthew immerses himself in this unfamiliar world, the FBI seeks his assistance to foil the group’s violent plot. Caught between these powerful forces, haunted by losses past and present, and desperate for redemption, Matthew charts a course of increasing peril—for himself and for everyone around him.
Lyrical and incendiary, The Book of Stone is a masterfully crafted novel that reveals the ambiguities of “good” and “evil”.
Set in New York City in 1998, this unremarkable thriller from Papernick (The Ascent of Eli Israel) features a protagonist many readers will struggle to like. Matthew Stone is emotionally at sea following the death of his father, Walter, a judge best known for compromising a criminal trial with his own bias. When an Orthodox Jew was charged with the murder of an Arab-American in Brooklyn, Walter put his finger on the scales. Walter's own father was a leading member of organized crime, and the Stone family's intense Jewish identity and Zionism has left Matthew indifferent to his religion and his people. When Matthew gets a Christian Arab woman pregnant, he ends up abandoning her in the face of his father's wrath. His evolution into a member of a Jewish terrorist network planning a major attack in New York is both superficial and psychologically underdeveloped. Heavy-handed prose doesn't help ("The Twin Towers rose above the jumbled chaos of Lower Manhattan like the two tablets of the original Law").