The City of Lost Secrets by Katie McVay
Available in ebook or paperback.
I can’t expressed how pysched I was to receive this Goodreads giveaway in the mail. The author was kind enough to include a handwritten note asking for a review about her debut book. Just for that, I put aside all other books to devour into this thriller. I wish I could say that I loved this book. I tried to. It’s not remotely as mysterious or thrilling as Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The author did herself a disfavor by comparing the two in the Amazon blurb. If you are looking for a female version of Da Vinci Code, you will be dissapointed.
That said, this was not a failure of a book. The protagonist, Mara Beltane is lovable and believable. Mara recently divorced, because she’d rather focus on her writing career have the children her husband desires. After writing five successful books, she begins to desire more. Hence why she travels to Jerusalem to investigate the ossuary rumored to be Jesus’s. Props to the author for embarking a non-religious character on a religious crusade. Mara is able to retain her objectivity throughout the entire novel.
Once she arrives in Jerusalem, this is where a thriller novel would take the reader on a non-stop breath-taking escapade. The City of Lost Secrets is not a thriller in this regard.
It’s about as fast paced as the movie Eat, Pray, Love (which I couldn’t finish). This novel reads like a documentary off of the Travel Channel or National Geographic Channel. Seriously. Pretend that Mara has the British accent and you feel like she is your tour guide off one of those episodes. I can tell that the author is very familiar with the subject matter and since I adore those documentaries, that part of the novel was interesting.
Of course, there ends up being a romance and I wish it was introduced gradually, rather than as an afterthought. I didn’t know about this love interest until page 120, halfway through the novel, when Mara’s friend emailed her. Really? That’s how the reader finds out?
As a thriller, I would have to rate this book very low. As a chick lit, I would rate it much higher. Depending on your taste in genre, you may or may not like this book. Personally, I’m not a fan of chick lit.
Scholars have written off the Talpiot tomb as an ancient Jewish burial cave, not the rumored lost tomb of Jesus. But even today, thirty years after its discovery in Jerusalem, the mystery remains unsolved. Now novelist Mara Beltane, desperate to reinvent her career and escape memories of a failed marriage, hopes to prove the rumor is true and turn it into a best-selling thriller.
While in Jerusalem, Mara’s research is thwarted by Israeli archeologists intent on protecting the tomb—and complicated by her feelings for Dr. Uri Nevon, a handsome professor and biblical scholar with a hidden past who aids her research. But Mara keeps digging, and soon enough—with Uri at her side—she finds evidence that could prove the tomb is indeed the final resting place of Jesus, a revelation that would rock Christianity to its core. As the stakes grow higher, and with authorities closing in on them, Mara must face the question that brought her to Jerusalem in the first place: Are the rewards of writing a best-seller worth the risks of revealing long-buried secrets—secrets that will jeopardize her career…and her life?