Sussman, Paul - 'The Hidden Oasis'
Freya, an American mountain climber, has to go to Egypt to attend her elder sister's funeral. Alex, her sister, was an geologist and explorer before becoming ill and had lived in a village just outside Cairo. When Freya attends the funeral and learns the exact cause of death, and knowing her sister's personal traits, she immediately suspects foul play.
One of the other mourners attending the funeral is Flin, a British geologist and expert on Egyptian antiquities who was very close to Alex. Coincidentally, he just happens to also be a retired MI6 agent who has retained his boxing and gun handling skills. Thus, he is able to rescue Freya from the clutches of some very nasty Cairo gangsters. They captured her as they believed her to possess some curious clues, inherited from her deceased sister, that would lead them to the mystery of the 'Hidden Oasis', which is one of archeology's biggest secrets. Instead Freya finds herself caught up in a very dangerous hunt for evidence that will lead her to some very dangerous devices that could overturn the peace initiatives in the whole of the Middle East.
The story develops over several areas in Egypt, with many false trails and a multiplicity of different characters. This is high adventure of a rare order, an inventive tale shot through with flair and imagination. It is multi-layered and just when you think the characters have reached a finality that they cannot escape from, the story takes off in a completely different direction and you're left dumbstruck. It is this high quality in the story telling which makes the pages just shoot by. Finally, you reach the conclusion but the author has kept a real shock there, to surprise you when you least expect it.
The book is so well written that it became quite an exciting page turner and I finished it in three days. This whole story is 656 long, but seems much shorter. There is also an extensive glossary the author has thoughtfully provided, together with with pages of sources and other notes. The book is very well done by an expert in his field who has several non fiction titles to his name on various aspects of Egyptology. He wrote also two previous fiction best sellers, the first THE LAST SECRET OF THE TEMPLE, which I read and very much enjoyed in December 2006.
This was a truly superb book from an author who hasn't yet failed to write an outstanding book and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to reading further exciting stories from Paul Sussman and I just hope that I don't have to wait too long .
Terry Halligan, England