Series: Omar Zagouri Thriller #1
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
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Blurb from goodreads:
For centuries, historians have speculated that the Queen of Sheba is nothing more than a seductive legend; but when undercover agent Omar Zagouri finds a tomb in a tunnel beneath Jerusalem, he unearths cryptic clues that may lead to the queen’s final resting place.
This discovery, if authentic, could throw into question the governmental claim to the Holy Land—and prove the Bible false. Wealthy collectors, ruthless archaeologists, and officials from Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, and Yemen scramble to find and lay claim to the secret site.
Dr. Richard Lyon of Brown University, the world’s leading expert on the queen, is found murdered in his office, setting off a chain of deadly events. Omar desperately works to piece together the puzzle to locate the queen’s burial ground, fearing another assassination will take place. He teams up with one of Lyon’s protégées as well as with his ex-girlfriend, agent Mia Golding, in order to unravel the truth about the queen, expose a murderer, and reveal a timeless story of love, revenge, and sacrifice.
Religion, history, a mystery, and a conspiracy- all of that is my catnip so I had to read this book. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
Archaeologist Lucas Morel invites grad student Jade Holmes to intern with him on a dig that may reveal information about the Biblical Queen of Sheba, who is the subject of Jade's masters thesis. There is little factual evidence to support the Bible's claims of her existence or that of King Solomon or his father King David. But, several countries claim the Queen of Sheba as theirs while several more claim they are descendants of King Solomon, including the Israelis. As a result, in the book, there are an assortment of countries and players involved. Some want to verify their claims while some don't want to take any chances that their claims might be disproved and thus work to shut down, violently at times, the research into the real story, and the genuine burial place, of the Queen of Sheba.
At times, it was confusing keeping the players straight. I probably should have made a chart. The story is also told from multiple perspectives which got confusing at times. I was surprised to realize that Omar, an Israeli intelligence officer, was the main protagonist as the focus was more on Morel and Holmes and the ending certainly hinted at further adventures for them. Since Omar is not white, American, or Christian, he would make for a very nice change as the lead in a thriller series but I'm not sure, based on this book, if he could carry a series. Maybe if Moore narrows her focus and spends more time developing him, it would work.
The story moves quickly, there's a lot of action, but some it seemed pointless. There are a handful of villains, all of them underdeveloped, and one was somewhat cartoonish. Omar's former girlfriend, Mia, is also an intelligence officer but I found her boring yet obnoxious, and simply couldn't understand why he wanted her back. It also wasn't clear for most of the book why they split up and by the time we found out I just didn't care. I had trouble buying into their romance so cared little for their reconciliation efforts. Mia also has ties to another key player in the story who stays in the background until near the end. That character didn't need Mia and she could easily have been removed from the story. Frankly I thought Omar an idiot for wanting her back and he was a bit obsessed at times.
"Finding Sheba" is told from multiple perspectives: First, Omar, the presumed hero of the book. He does in fact behave heroically, and also sometimes stupidly; he's basically decent, trying to balance doing his duty versus doing the right thing and those actions are frequently in conflict with each other. Next is Alem, an Ethiopian who befriends Omar and who may be descended from the Queen of Sheba. Then there's the American grad student Jade who is useless and unnecessary. She does play a part in finding a tomb but it's all quite accidental, and requires no skill, intelligence, or effort on her part. She could easily have been written out of the story. Last is the historical perspective of Moore's Queen of Sheba. She was interesting and I enjoyed reading her story although some of her actions were inexplicable to me.
The story had promise and Omar has promise but the writing needs to be tightened, Omar needs to be better developed, and Mia really needs to disappear, maybe get killed in the line of duty. "Finding Sheba" was an okay way to spend a few hours but it was nothing special.