Scandal and Intrigue among Victorian Archaeologists
The Cornerstone of Deception, author Cheryl Simani's historical mystery novel, weaves an absorbing portrait of status and scandal in the Victorian period. Spanning the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers (Modern Iraq), Paris, London, and Northern Ireland, biblical truths, and imperial politics are caught in the whirl of ambition and greed. Rife with intrigue, duplicity, and romance, this spellbinding novel is certain to enthrall anyone interested in issues of the debate between science and religion, or who simply enjoy cracking a confounding case.
How unfortunate that the author listened to her friends and tried to write a novel around what is, undoubtedly, most interesting research into archeological crime.
How unfortunate that the author padded this research with a mind-numbing series of improbable "love stories" -- the women invariably of jaw-dropping beauty, meeting one-dimensional men in a series of silly "pure-chance" episodes designed, apparently, to show something of a good or evil nature.
How unfortunate that the author relies on "tell" instead of "show" -- entire plot-blocks laid out when one character explains years of back-story to someone else (delivered in British-accented monotone).
How unfortunate that the author never met a cliche she wouldn't use, sometimes more than once. I was so distracted by high school purple prose that I'd start cliche-counting and lose the story thread. How unfortunate that I didn't care enough to rewind.
And how unfortunate that the narrator, who has received positive reviews in other works, reels out these telenovela tales in flat monotone, often creating confusion about which character was speaking. Again, a distraction--I couldn't help recreating dialog in my head, hoping a more lively and realistic rendition would salvage the writing.
Perhaps all this perceived misfortune flows from my latest two "listens" -- "Analysis & Critique: How to Engage and Write About Anything" and the mind-shattering storytelling of "The Things They Carried."
Full Disclosure: I did not finish this book. Four hours in, I surrendered to the realization that my interest in its archeological core was overwhelmed by irritation. I'm putting it back on Audible's shelf.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful