... mesmerizing ... By the end of the book, one feels sorry for Ms. King, not so much because a con man gulled her but because, from the universe of journalists who might have covered this story, she drew Mr. Sabar. Pursuing the King-Fritz drama, he left no stone unturned...His conclusion is devastating ... delectable melodrama. There are dozens more surprises in his five-act play than in this brief appreciation. Savor the denouement—and don’t leave at intermission.
Veritas, Sabar’s exhausting, madcap, unforgettable book...is for enthusiasts of ancient Christianity, as well as anyone who likes watching snooty academics brought low and readers of idea-driven capers, whether by Daniel Silva or Janet Malcolm. It’s a barely believable tale, crazier than a tweed-sniffer in the faculty lounge. The book’s flaws are those of a journalist who Goes Big. It is 34 percent too long. Sabar often overreaches, as when he dips a toe, then plunges, into the psychoanalysis of his subjects ... There’s lot of this breathy melodrama, useful for the screenplay I hope is coming.
Book-length expansions of articles often seem bloated, but this one is a remarkable exception. Every page of its icily forensic narrative advances the story in some unexpected way, continually modifying one’s understanding of its principal players and their complex motives. It is partly a psychological thriller about the danse macabre that goes on between a skilled con man and a well-chosen mark, partly a global-historical blockbuster with variants on the obligatory tropes: lurid sex, wicked priests, Egyptology, Nazis. But it is also, most interestingly, a sustained study of the clash between the idea of historical truth as a set of objective facts waiting to be uncovered by rigorous inquiry and the more contemporary notion of it as a construct, amenable to (and fair game for) deliberate intervention. Sabar is clearly in favour of establishing the historical truth, and the spectacular results of his old-fashioned diligence stand as a 400-page rebuke to those who aren’t. But a surprising magnanimity prevails, with both King and her manipulator retaining a measure of sympathy, even respect, to the end ... it leaves you with the potent image of a woman who, far from being anyone’s dupe, knew exactly what she was doing all along.