Ok, so here's the thing. I have an enormous amount of respect for authors who can do a ton of research for a novel and then weave it in seamlessly without it sounding like one enormous info dump. I knew I was going to be wowed by H.B. Moore's Finding Sheba, and I was not disappointed.
This is the description from Amazon:
"An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false.
For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly."
The story has four subplots that run simultaneously. At the core of it all is the Queen of Sheba herself, Nicaula, and her story unfolds anciently as we then blend into our modern sub-plots, which include:
- Jade, the grad student, whose professor has been murdered and she is working with handsome Frenchman, Luc, to uncover the secret behind the professor's murder--that he knew where the Queen of Sheba is buried. This information has the potential to wreak havoc all over the world because many countries lay claim to her.
- Alem is an Ethopian native whose grandmother believes they are descendants of the Queen of Sheba and he goes to a dig in Oman to see if he can't prove for himself that it's true. While there, he crosses paths with--
- Omar Zagouri, an undercover agent who is working with Mia, his former girlfriend, to keep all the governments looking into the Queen of Sheba's burial place on the up-and-up.
Now. There are layers within layers in this complex but readable book, and I'm not going to give any spoilers. It is a satisfying read on so many levels, for those who appreciate intrigue and political suspense, romance and personal relationships, and a delicious premise that could have implications and ripples that would change religions, cultures, history itself.
I have long admired Heather Moore's ability to spin a good yarn while infusing fascinating historical facts and settings that are believable and rich. Her knowledge of the Middle East is clear, and if I didn't know she has visited many times, I would assume she has. There's something wonderful about being in the hands of a master storyteller, and a smart one, to boot. You can be a reader who knows next to nothing about the Middle East and all of its complex history, or you can be an expert on the subject, and either way, you will come away from this read satisfied.
I give this book two thumbs up and tip my hat to the author. As a contemporary who has spent a fair amount of time conducting research of my own, I admire her abilities and talents with healthy envy. :-)