The Passover Protocols

  • Review
By – January 22, 2024

Sleuthing in Jerusalem isn’t what it used to be. If we take Ellen Frankel’s word for it — and there is every rea­son to do so — it is more dan­ger­ous than ever. This may make for sig­nif­i­cant­ly more stress and strife in Israel over­all, but for afi­ciona­dos of com­pelling mys­ter­ies like the ones Frankel writes, it is excel­lent news.

The third book in the Jerusalem Mys­ter­ies series, The Passover Pro­to­cols is based on the old con­spir­a­cy known as the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion. In the hands of mas­ter sto­ry­teller Frankel, these ancient Pro­to­cols take on a new dimen­sion: they become entwined with a blood libel mur­der in Jerusalem right before the Passover hol­i­day. Three Amer­i­can white suprema­cists have arrived in Israel, and intel­li­gence agent Maya Rimon tries to untan­gle their plan and stay one step ahead of them.

Set­ting off the vio­lence is the dis­cov­ery of the blood-drained body of a young Chris­t­ian boy. No one can find a mur­der weapon, and no one is will­ing to claim respon­si­bil­i­ty or offer an expla­na­tion. Yet the dread­ed Pro­to­cols, which claimed that Jews need the blood of a Chris­t­ian child to make the mat­zos they eat at Passover, pre­dict­ed exact­ly this scenario.

Rimon must deter­mine whether the mur­der is a sin­gle event or part of a larg­er con­spir­a­cy. She is pro­found­ly dis­turbed when the three Amer­i­cans are iden­ti­fied as mem­bers of a right-wing neo-Nazi group. Con­vinced that they are some­how involved, she sets out to solve the crime. But how to prove her sus­pi­cions is anoth­er mat­ter entire­ly — and how to pre­vent the per­pe­tra­tors from stag­ing fur­ther attacks becomes paramount.

Togeth­er with her boss and the police chief inspec­tor, she tries to cob­ble togeth­er the clues she has found so far to fig­ure out where the three men might strike next. Rimon fol­lows her intu­ition and is silent­ly wait­ing for the three men when they arrive. Now, she has to fight them on her own.

The Passover Pro­to­cols will be espe­cial­ly enthralling for those who’ve read the first two books in the tril­o­gy and are already root­ing for the char­ac­ters. Frankel’s prose is crisp, well-paced, and sat­is­fy­ing. It sees the writer and lit­er­ary schol­ar at her best. 

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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