Has Anyone Seen the Tabernacle Menorah? Riverhead Launches Israel-Themed Thriller at Sotheby’s

A woman was walking towards the elevator at Sotheby’s last night when she recognized the suited man beside her.

“When was the last time we saw each other?” she asked cheerfully as they rode upstairs. “Israel? Was it Israel?”

It wasn’t, but who cares. The important thing was they were seeing each other now, at Sotheby’s, at the book party for debut novelist Daniel Levin’s recently published The Last Ember, a thriller in the tradition of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code about the search for the Tabernacle Menorah, “a priceless historical artifact stolen from the Second Temple in Jerusalem two thousand years ago and never recovered.”
In the enormous exhibition-hall-turned-party-room up on the tenth floor, guests were greeted by a large photo of the young and toothy Mr. Levin wearing a sports jacket and a Mona Lisa smile. Porcelain antiques were displayed in glass cases, and a collection of modern paintings—a few Warhols among them—lined the walls.

The circles of people populating the hall appeared to be in a state of constant rotation, re-introductions and long-awaited hellos passing between them as yarmulke-covered men danced from one embrace or handshake to another. “How did that happen?” one asked, pointing to an older woman’s cane. “I fell,” she replied.

Geoff Kloske, head of the publishing house that is putting out Mr. Levin’s book, said he wasn’t worried about the possibility that The Last Ember would get stomped at bookstores next month when Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, his sequel to mega-blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, finally comes out. 

“This book was scheduled long before Dan Brown’s book,” Mr. Kloske said. “He did not scare us off. He may have scheduled his book around Danny’s!”

A little after 7 p.m., Lisa Dennison, the executive VP of Sotheby’s North America, introduced Mr. Levin to the crowd. “I became aware of Danny’s writing at his wedding, when he actually wrote a song in honor of his wife,” Ms. Dennison said, prepping Mr. Levin’s approach to the podium not unlike a Rabbi might do at a Bar Mitzvah.

Mr. Levin, who once was a clerk for the Israeli Supreme Court, and studied classics as an undergraduate, stood in front of his audience seemingly relaxed, and spoke very seriously about some things. “Archaeology really is politics,” he said, “and history is much more fragile than we think.”

Afterwards Mr. Levin stepped aside amid applause to hug his parents, their pride visible as their Danny’s anointment into authorhood in the temple of Sotheby’s became official.

Has Anyone Seen the Tabernacle Menorah? Riverhead Launches Israel-Themed Thriller at Sotheby’s