Omar Zagouri must delve into a mystery dating back to the 16th century when he’s targeted by murderous conspirators in Moore’s (Exodus, 2016, etc.) sequel.
Omar, an Israel-based special agent, frequently looks into situations involving long-lost archaeological treasures. The prize at the center of this novel is a trove of letters from the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent to his favorite wife, Roxelane. Disgruntled antiques shop owner Baris Uzuner hopes to use these letters to prove that Roxelane plotted the death of Suleiman’s eldest son, Mustafa, in order to elevate her own son to the throne. Baris hopes to kill the descendants of Roxelane and restore a monarchy—with himself at the helm as Mustafa’s heir. When Omar, who’s related to Roxelane, is targeted and his mother gravely injured, he sets himself on a mission to thwart Baris’ plans. He soon discovers that Baris isn’t the only person with designs on the letters. With the help of his partner/girlfriend, Mia Golding, linguistics expert Leyla Kaplan, and smuggler Naim Bata, Omar must figure out who’s bankrolling Baris and stop him before it’s too late. Moore does an excellent job of setting the scene of international intrigue, and although this novel is part of a series, it also works well as a stand-alone. The story jumps back and forth between the present and the past as Moore tells the story of Roxelane’s capture by the Turkish army and her subsequent love affair with Suleiman. The past sections are often more compelling than those set in the present, which are a bit predictable but still entertaining. Roxelane is an excellent, strong female character, and Moore brings some obscure players from the Ottoman Empire vividly to life. She even quotes from Suleiman’s actual poetry, using lines such as “My springtime, my merry-faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart” to conjure a complex portrait of this larger-than-life figure.
A satisfying historical thriller.