The back cover blurb for this book positions it as a sort of ‘DaVinci’s Code set in ancient Mesopotamia!’: mysterious and powerful ancient artifacts, a deadly conspiracy to keep these artifacts secreted, and an antiques dealer protagonist who is out to solve the mystery.
John Madison is the antiques dealer protagonist, and his adventure into ancient Iraq begins when his older half brother, Samuel, an archeologist, is killed in a mysterious accident. Unbeknownst to John, his brother has sold their joint New York City apartment out from under them to finance one of his Middle East digs, and John’s grief is compounded by financial uncertainty. This plot line intersects with events kicked off by the suspicious drug overdose of John’s frenemy, Hal- a treasure hunt of sorts that will take John from New York to Turkey, Baghdad and Mosul.
This was not my book. I found the main character unlikeable and his actions often required more suspensions of disbelief than I was willing to grant him. He was also melodramatic and narcissistic. The writing was also not good- lots of telling as opposed to showing; event progression felt choppy rather than flowy; tone was often uneven; lots of cliches. There were too many characters and plot lines to keep track of, especially when everyone seemed so one-dimensional and the setting kept flipping between parts of New York and the Middle East. Overall there was a lot of missed potential here, not least that the war in Iraq and looting of priceless historical artifacts is a real-life set up that seems prime to be explored in a thriller.
The only minor saving grace was the Mesopotamian history- McIntosh has a background in ancient history and the brief nuggets- dropping like lead background blocks into her story- were intriguing and had me wanting a history book rather than this mess.