TITLE: FINDING SHEBA
AUTHOR: H.B. Moore
PUBLISHER: Thomas and Mercer, Seattle
PUBLISH DATE: February 3, 2015
PAPERBACK: 416 pages
GENRE: FICTION, THRILLER, MYSTERY,
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CONTROL NUMBER: 2014948712
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.
5 stars out of 5 (though deserving of more)
REVIEW TITLE: "A SUPERB MASTER’S CLASS IN WRITING AN INTERNATIONAL THRILLER"
Without a doubt, this is the best novel I have read in the 2015 year! Additionally, I can honestly say it is the best novel I have read in a long, long time. To have that status, a book must be truly captivating to read and be exceptionally well-written. The reader is artfully hooked multiple times within the first thirteen pages, and during that time the reader’s commitment to the archeological thriller is sure. H.B. Moore’s FINDING SHEBA succeeds with captivating storytelling and excellence in writing as she takes the reader into the world of an international thriller filled with mystery, suspense, adventure, in-depth investigation, secrecy, archeological expedition, opposing political factions, religious conflict, murder, greed, love, vivid cultures and customs both ancient and contemporary, superstition, conspiracy, all spanning generations of time and crossing numerous geographical boundaries.
I do not want to spoil the many surprises in the book for yet-to-be readers by elaborating on the discoveries or the many twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat and tightly gripping the book. Suffice it to say, the stakes in this thriller are high, literally life-threatening, as well as the significant potential for the need to rewrite history, even Biblical history, depending upon the archeological findings. From a reader’s standpoint, this book is NOT for the faint-hearted reader, nor is it a timid story for a casual Saturday afternoon read. What this book IS, to my great enjoyment, is an action-packed, intelligent, invigorating, mind-stimulating, memorable read for adult audiences combining contemporary and ancient fictionalized characters and events with scenarios that seem plausible as they unfold in geographical settings of Arabia, Egypt, the Red Sea, Yemen, Jerusalem, Ethiopia, Oman, Saba, Eloth, the Frankincense Trail, and Providence Rhode Island.
The telling of the story passes back and forth through various periods of ancient and contemporary time and setting. This could be confusing for the reader if not for the well-developed characters and the story-within-story technique used. This is no easy task, but H.B. Moore has successfully accomplished this noteworthy literary work as she takes the reader into the depths of an intense investigative hunt to do exactly what the book title states…finding Sheba. To achieve this in a way that both intrigues and captivates the reading audience, requires the expert hand and creative mind of the highest caliber of writer, and H.B. Moore proves she is up to the task.
In the ancient portion of the story, it is a delight to discover that young Sheba is not only beautiful but also strong-willed and does not shrink from battle or from executing judgement when called for. Her causes are just, her soldiers are loyal, and she also has the desires that any young woman of her era would have but she has to temper those for the sake of her people. She courageously steps up to her calling as the next rightful leader following her father’s murderous death and she leads fearlessly. Sheba keeps the truth of many things hidden in secrecy and only with careful calculated precision timing does she reveal the secrets of her family and of her own heart.
In the contemporary portion of the story, it is equally invigorating to accompany undercover agents Omar Zagouri and Mia Golding as they represent Israeli Intelligence and the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Ancient Artifacts in their pursuit of truthful history and rightful ownership of the contents of ancient ruins suspected to be linked to the Queen of Sheba. The quest for the artifacts, attempt to identify and apprehend pirates of antiquities, and exposure of the murderer is riddled with many persons who would eagerly sabotage all effort and kill Omar and Mia in order to secure their own greed. Omar and Mia also undergo a vigorous personal journey to work through the complexities of their relationship, risk their individual lives for the safety of each other, and try to uncap the future of their professional work.
In a parallel contemporary story which eventually intertwines with that of Omar and Mia, master’s college student and research protégée, Jade Holmes, teams up with Dr. Lucas Morel, Egyptologist and scholar, as they search for verifiable evidence of the existence of the Queen of Sheba and her impact upon modern civilization. Additionally, an Ethiopian college student, Alem Eshete, becomes involved as a member of a Yemeni excavation crew and his path crosses first with Omar, then the others; Alem’s ancestry becomes a critical piece of evidence in meshing each of the puzzle pieces together, but not before each person’s life is held in peril, ramping up the intensity of suspense throughout the contemporary part of the story.
In my opinion, as a reader and as a reviewer, FINDING SHEBA is H.B. Moore’s master’s class in writing an international thriller. Her impeccable research is clearly evident. Her storytelling talent is prolific. The reader will, however, appreciate a disclaimer of a few things: (1) there is one very brief expression of passion between a married couple, (2) there is one brief event of human sacrifice, (3) there is one incident of desert marauders committing vile acts; likewise, the stark punishment for those guilty of such is shown to be just and fitting in that ancient period of time, (4) there is implied maltreatment of confined/imprisoned persons. In contrast, great poetic artistry is shown in the vivid description of the deserts as well as the harsh natural habitat in which the story takes place, often leaving the reader fearful of their own vulnerability to a poisonous snake or scorpion, parched and in need of a drink of cool water, and desperate for the cooler temperatures of nightfall in the desert. Likewise, the descriptive language used to portray the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets tempers the life-threatening hours between and lends to the readers’ hope for possibility of survival and successful discovery of the truth to the story’s many mysteries. Every ride across the various deserts, whether in an open-air jeep, SUV, or upon horseback or camel, is palpable. The scorching temperatures are excruciating and blowing winds of desert sand change the terrain with constancy; the merciless unknown of what is ahead creates a foreboding anticipation. The expanse of the star-filled desert night skies creates a forgiveness of the harsh experiences through the long days of searching, traveling, in pursuit of answers. All of these components draw the reader into the story with full participation of every sense and emotion.
IN CONCLUSION, FINDING SHEBA is spellbinding and breathtaking; whether you measure that by saying "Bravo!", "Thumbs Up!", "Applause! Applause!", or "Woot! Woot!", it is for certain, H.B. Moore delivers a superb read with FINDING SHEBA. Whether you are an independent reader, a book club reader, male or female reader, adults will find this to be an intellectually stimulating, entertaining, and very satisfying read. As a reader and as a reviewer, I am very pleased to state,
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND FINDING SHEBA.
Alice M. Batzel
Published Playwright, Journalist, Freelance Writer
NOTE: Reviewer acquired the book as a random drawing winner from a contest hosted by the author’s Facebook page. Receipt of the book prize did not carry any obligation or encouragement for reading or review.
REVIEW POSTED 9/18/2015 ON:
www.alicembatzel.com (Writer’s Website)
REVIEW POSTED 9/21/2015 ON: