Verdict: The City of Lost Secrets: A Mara Beltane Mystery is a light, well written story that captures the feeling of the Holy City. An enticing read for lovers of chick lit and mystery.
Mara Beltane is rather successful chick literature novelist who has lost her direction and passion for her work, until she watches an investigative report about the burial tomb of Christ. Suddenly inspired with a plot for a new novel, she decides to head to Jerusalem, where in her quest for information, she meets Professor Uri Nevon and falls into a labyrinth of mystery and suspicion and love.
First time author Katie McVay’s credible plot and tight writing makes for a story that for the most part, effectively blends together the elements of an intriguing mystery with the lightness of a romantic chick lit novel. There are at times points when the mystery and romantic aspects of the plot struggle for the position of plot versus sub-plot, however McVay keeps the reader involved in the story with the details of the exotic location and unfolding mystery. The climax to the mystery is tackled somewhat lightly, but McVay pulls off a gratifying conclusion to the novel.
McVay manages to incorporate details about Jerusalem, its history and as a backdrop, without sounding like a guidebook. McVay also conveys some humorous cultural stereotypes about Americans when Beltane notes: “surely I looked American to them, dressed as I was in casual attire that included a pair of sneakers, the most American of accessories.” Beltane adds that: “Americans stick out like sore thumbs abroad, no matter how hard we try to blend in, [because] America is one the few countries who citizens aren’t bilingual.” One distracting comment occurs when Beltane’s friend, Lisa, discovers that Mara is going to Jerusalem and says: “A single American girl traveling to a Muslim country by herself…” This is an odd statement since Jerusalem is not a country, nor is it Muslim (though some might argue otherwise).
The protagonist Mara Beltane is a credible character; slow to recover from her divorce, she is independent yet fragile, torn between the desire for adventure in a foreign land or security in Philadelphia. Beltane chooses the temptation of Jerusalem to rekindle her passion for her work, and forces her to reexamine her past and future relationships. The fact that Beltane is far from perfect makes her identifiable as she struggles to keep her desire and jealousy for Uri in check so that she doesn’t lose sight of what will ultimately be most beneficial to her life.
The City of Lost Secrets: A Mara Beltane Mystery is a light, well written story that captures the feeling of the Holy City. An enticing read for lovers of chick lit and mystery.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader
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