I am a copy editor and proofreader and an avid reader. Some would call me a bookworm. My favourite genres are: Romance, Romantic Erotica, Mystery, Thrillers, YA, Paranormal, Supernatural, Science Fiction, General Fiction and Children's Books. I also have a Facebook page where I put all my reviews: Book Reviews by Lynn. You are welcome to join me there too. You are welcome to follow, comment and enquire.
Six months ago, museum curator Deborah Miller had never heard of Ek Balam, an obscure Mayan archaeological site known for its carved figures. Now here she is, having traded Atlanta’s urban jungle for a remote village in Mexico’s Yucatan, tasked with overseeing Ek Balam’s excavation. But when a sudden rainstorm causes a partial collapse at the site, an unexpected treasure is unearthed: a collection of rough-cut rubies hidden from the world for hundreds of years—and very out-of-place in the Yucatan. It is a find of immeasurable value, one that Deborah vows to protect—and yet is powerless to prevent from being stolen soon after its discovery. Determined to retrieve the stones, she sets out to trace their complex history across four centuries and two continents, from Mexico to northern England where the jewels once played a harrowing role in the Lancashire witch trials of 1612. But Deborah is not the only one searching for the stones; close on her heels are archaeologists, occultists, and one very determined arms dealer, all of whom will stop at nothing, not even murder, to claim the prize for themselves.
This is an intriguing, mystery/thriller. I saw a review for this book on a blog I follow. The review was rather scathing of it, which piqued my interest. I decided to see what all the fuss was about and downloaded it in audio book format.
The book is narrated by Tanya Eby. Other people who have listened to the audio book have commented that her narration was too slow, but I found her narration quite enjoyable. I do admit that her attempt at the British accent was off, but I thought she deserved kudos for trying. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to mimic accents, which is the hardest part to achieve when speaking or reading out loud; even trained actors struggle. Nevertheless, her speaking voice is pleasant to listen to, and is clear and concise.
Deborah Miller is a wonderful character. I really liked her. She is a museum curator, who usually sits behind a desk, but has been sent to a remote village in the Mexican Yucatan to oversee the excavation site of Ek Balam. She finds herself involved in a thrilling mystery, with danger lurking not too far away.
I started to listen to this book with an open mind, even considering the rather poor reviews on Audible. I found myself quickly pulled into the story and enjoying it. It's a thrilling mystery, with several twists and turns. The story is mostly told through the eyes of Deborah, but there are a few other characters who have a say. This, I feel, gave the story a more intriguing view, as it allows the reader to "see" what is happening elsewhere. However, as some of the other reviewers have stated, the story tends to be a bit long winded and seems to drag at times.
The history and Mayan artifacts seem to be well researched and described by the author, but some of the plot or sub plots seem a bit implausible. I can understand how jewels may have been transported to Mexico from England all those years ago, but I couldn't see what the CIA, MI5 and a Serbian arms dealer would want with a gem which had no monetary value or even material use outside of costume jewellery. Even if it could be used in a weapon, the refractory capability of such a poor quality gem would render the weapon useless. Only flawless gems with glass like qualities would work in modern lasers, not cloudy ones (or maybe I am mistaken to believe this is the case, as I was never very good at physics). That being said, the story kept me hooked and, after a thrilling chase from the jungle to England and back again, it crescendos into a massive gun fight between several characters, with Deborah trapped in between. The mystery of who the killer in the camp was had me guessing for quite a while at first, as there were several red herrings along the way. However, when their identity was revealed, I wasn't really surprised; I had a feeling it was that person for most of the story as they had a motive.
The story ended satisfactorily and left me feeling happy.
A.J. Hartley has written an intriguing thriller, which I really did enjoy. His writing style wasn't particularly as fast paced compared to other authors I have read, but his descriptive ability allowed me to picture the scenes with clarity. The flow was okay, but some of the scenes were a little on the long side, which made the story drag. However, I would definitely consider reading more of his books in the future.
I recommend this book if you love mystery, thrillers or suspense genres. - Lynn Worton