St. Martin’s Press: New York
June 2007 (pb)
What if the Iraq War was not about WMDs? Or regime change? Or even oil for an energy hungry U.S. of A? What if it was really about a powerful cabal bent of bringing about an Aryan New World Order whose power derived from the ancient secrets of the Garden of Eden—yes, that Garden of Eden that every Sunday School student learned was located in ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers merged?
That is the premise of S.L. Linnea’s pulse-pounding archaeology fantasy/thriller, Chasing Eden. In what promises to be the first in a series, the reader is introduced to a most uncommon yet engaging heroine—U.S. Army Chaplain (Major) Jaime Richards. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, a student of comparative religions, an expert at translating ancient texts, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. The action begins at breakneck speed as Jaime barely escapes an ambush on the road to Tallil during the attack and occupation of Iraq in April of 2003—an ambush that hints at the complicity of a traitor within the ranks of the U.S. invading forces. But the attackers return and with them, like a ghost out of Jaime’s past, is the badly injured Adara Dunbar. Adara, who was a classmate of Jaime’s back at Princeton, and who shared Jaime’s interests in the history of ancient Mesopotamia, is brutally killed by a black-shrouded assassin—but not before she is able to slip Jaime an encoded message that leads her to the ancient ruins of Ur—the Biblical home of Abraham, the shared ancestor of the world’s three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
She reluctantly teams up with the dangerously handsome Jani, who claims to be Adara’s brother, and together they battle the shadowy conspirators who have looted both the Baghdad and Mosul museums of valuable artifacts needed to carry out their plot, as well as Saddam’s Fedayeen. Woven into the plot are successors to the Nazi dream of an ascendant pure Aryan race, the fabulous artifact called the Sword of Life which is dated to 2400 BCE, ancient maps and cuneiform tablets – all of which point to a desperate race to find the gate to Eden and its fantastic riches and mystical powers.
Sharon Linnea and B.K. Sherer, who collectively are S.L. Linnea, have concocted a wonderful tale of adventure, conspiracy, and even a bit of gentle spirituality. This is definitely a quick read—ideal for the beach or a snowy afternoon in front of a fire—but the combination of taut action, well-crafted characters and imaginative flights of fantasy makes for a delightful read. This is one reader who can hardly wait for the next novel—Beyond Eden! Three trowels for this new addition to the world of archaeology fiction.