Pretty scary, yeah, I know. When I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest with QUEEN, my unpublished thriller, I didn't expect to get so much feedback. It's been great to know what complete strangers think of my manuscript.
manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization
A refreshingly feminist take on the old-form archaeological thriller, the action here sprawls across millennia and across Saudi Arabia, Israel, Yemen, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Oman, as the narrative imagines the life of Nicaula, a.k.a. the Queen of Sheba. Solving the puzzle of the Queen's life is divided between the archaeologists racing to find the Queen's tomb and the reader, who is privy to the Queen's story through flashbacks that track her progress, 3,000 years ago, from Southern Arabia to Jerusalem and beyond. The archaeological detectives (some pure of heart, some thoroughly corrupt) include: earnest university student Jade, in Cairo to continue the work of her recently murdered professor; Lucas, a handsomely gruff archaeologist who works with Jade; Omar, a conflicted Arab-Israeli operative infiltrating excavations for the Israeli government; and Alem, a pre-med student from Ethiopia who hopes to prove his family is descended from the Queen. As the sleuths sleuth, their narratives begin to cross and interlock, sometimes awkwardly. This isn't a bookish, light-hearted game of ancient-world detective, though. Various groups, some very unsavory, are determined to find the Queen's tomb first: kidnapping, gunplay, and torture follow. What strains credulity, however, and ultimately thwarts the story, is the book's insistence that the revelation of the Queen's life story will drive the Abrahamic religions into violent conflict and hasten us toward Armageddon, a contention that simply isn't supported, even within the fantasy of the book. Pulled back from the brink of Armageddon, the story does offer an interesting variation on the classic theme: chasing the past in order to save the future.