Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago
Aileen Baron has written a wonderfully atmospheric first novel. Set in 1938 Palestine, Lily Sampson is an American graduate student in archaeology who is fortunate enough to work on a significant excavation under the tutelage of one of Great Britain’s pre-eminent scholars, Geoffrey Eastbourne. When artifacts begin to disappear from the dig site, and Geoffrey Eastbourne is brutally murdered, Lily finds herself embroiled in the convoluted plots, sub-plot and intrigues of pre-World War II Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular.
Aileen Baron is an archaeologist by trade and has spent many years doing fieldwork in the Middle East and her experience shows. Her vivid descriptions of the physical and emotional ambience of this dangerous part of the world is captivating. Violence erupts in the streets among and between Arabs, Jews and other Westerners during these waning days of the British Mandate in Palestine; followers of the Grand Mufti are making common cause with the Nazis; spies spy on spies at lavish embassy balls; and the grand old traditions of tomb raiders continues apace, indifferent to the clashes of cultures and empires, whether Roman, Crusader, Ottoman, British or Nazi, that swirl about them.