Monday, August 10, 2015

Tracy Higley’s “Awakening”

Author Tracy Higley has created quite a thematic series of romantic suspense stories based on ancient civilizations. She’s published novels set in the Galilee of the early period of Herod the Great (39 B.C.), ancient Egypt (two books set in the time of the pharaohs), the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, two in ancient Greece, two in Rome and one in Ephesus in the early Christian period. Then she has the “Lost Cities” series – novels set in Pompeii and Petra, and two in the “Babylon Chronicles.” And she has others.

Her latest work in Awakening, set in contemporary New York City and the Minoan civilization set on what we know today as the Greek island of Santorini, the location of all the iconic photographs of white houses and blue-domed roofs. In the distant past, a volcano blew a considerable portion of the island away, leaving what is known as the Caldera.

Kallista Andreas, called Kallie, is a young woman without much of a past, or at least much of a memory. Seven years earlier, she had been found in a New York City museum devoted to Minoan artifacts, without a name, a memory or anything else. She’d been taken under the wing of a museum director, trained in Minoan history and research techniques, and gradually built a life for herself, but still with a void of what happened before.

She’s getting therapy in an effort to recover her memory, and her therapist suggests she keep a journal. She begins to write a story set in the Minoan period, on the island now called Santorini. She’s not sure where the ideas for the story are coming from, but they are coming.

Santorini, overlooking the Caldera
One of the museum’s benefactors is a young man, Dimitri Andreas (not related to Kallie), who’s inherited great wealth from his father. He hires Kallie to lead a team to find an artifact that supposedly holds the translation key to the Linear A language, used by the ancient Myceneans. If it does exist, it will move Minoan research and scholarship into entirely new territory.

And off the team goes to Egypt, Venice and finally Santorini, dogged by crooks, thieves, and assorted villains. As the story progresses, the story of the search becomes entwined with the story Kallie is writing in her journal.

If all of this sounds somewhat improbable, it is – until you start reading the story. Higley writes with a fast, engaging pace, pulling you into some unexpected directions. After a while, though, you don’t care – you just want to find out what happens next (and a lot keep happening next).

Awakening is a great summer read.

Photograph: Wall painting of boxing boys and antelopes, Akrotiri on Santorini, courtesy of Travel to Santorini. Photograph of Greek villas in Santorini courtesy of Kenneth Diluigi at My Budget Travel.

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