Other characters are equally compelling, such as the handsome, conflicted Rob who is attacked by the devil at night, Jana’s powerful mother who visits Jana in Venice with a super efficient personal assistant and a suitcase full of cash, or the charmingly avuncular Welshman doctor Bryn Awbrey, whose extensive knowledge of symbols and chaotic library saves the day. The novel never flags, always moving quickly, as the reader becomes engaged with the characters and eager to identify the motivations that lead to a number of superb plot twists. Dingli manages to develop Jana’s scientific, proof-based nature in perfect contrast with Rob’s faith based one, creating a tension that is mirrored by the broader context of historical scholarship against a religion that encourages belief over proof.
The setting is particularly powerful, taking the reader on a high speed chase between Italy, Malta, Syria and even Australia, showing off Dingli's multi-cultural background and providing a rich backdrop to the story:
Damascus was a haze in the distance and sunset was coming to that part of the world, giving it a sepia tingue and turning the mountains, with their icy tops, to a muddy gold. (345)
It isn’t just the natural world that is richly described, but also the iconic places that the characters visit, from the Saydnaya convent in Damascus to the Rabat Priory in Malta, along with the many paintings and sculptures, all described with the kind of meticulous detail that helps the reader sympathise with the love that Jana has for the places and work. This is a book that reads quickly but is underpinned by a great deal of intense scholarship which is seamlessly integrated into the story. There are, at times, a few rather strained coincidences, where people just happen to be in the right place at the right time in order to tie up the plot points, but overall, According to Luke is an enjoyable read that combines exquisite writing with dramatic plotting and a very powerful, feminist theme.