Here’s something you don’t see all that often: a successful writer hauling out one of his old books and rewriting it. The Quest, originally published as a mass-market paperback in 1975, was DeMille’s first novel. In some ways, it anticipated the current spate of thrillers whose plots involve a historical mystery, frequently with a religious component: a trio of journalists, covering the Ethiopian civil war, stumble onto what could be the key to one of history’s greatest puzzles, the location of the fabled Holy Grail. What’s especially interesting here is that the author has rewritten the book, apparently rather extensively (the original paperback edition ran to 255 pages, while the new galley circulated for review clocks in at nearly 460), but he hasn’t updated it. It’s still set in the mid-1970s, and it still feels like a book written at that time, although fans of the author’s recent work will note DeMille’s familiar deft characterizations and lively dialogue. A full-fledged new DeMille novel or a historical curiosity? You be the judge.
This review was originally published in Booklist, September 2013.