OUTSIDE EDEN by Merry Jones


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An archaeologist runs afoul of a millennialist cult on a dig in northern Israel.

Iraq War veteran Harper Jennings (Winter Break, 2013, etc.) has plenty on her mind. In Jerusalem while her geologist husband, Hank, attends an international symposium on water rights, Harper spends her days trying to entertain her toddler, Chloe. But the desert landscape brings flashbacks of wartime trauma. These only increase when Harper witnesses the stabbing of a man in the shuk of the Old City. Hoping that a change of scene will help, she volunteers for a dig outside of Tel Megiddo. But Harper is shaken, first by Chloe’s quick abandonment of her English vocabulary in favor of Hebrew and later, by the constant and nerve-racking vigilance of Hagit, Chloe’s nanny, against plots hatched by the Evil Eye. It doesn’t help that all the other volunteers on the dig are members of a Christian sect led by charismatic pastor Ramsey Travis. Nor does it set Harper’s mind at ease when her digging partner, Lynne, confides that Travis has the extraordinary power to decode secret messages in the Bible and that he’s discovered that Tel Megiddo is actually a corruption of the word Armageddon, which will take place at that site on the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, only five days away. As Travis’ flock prepares for the End of Days, Harper tries to alert the Israeli authorities, but they ignore her concerns. So she does what any red-blooded female Iraq War veteran would do, launching an assault against the Evil Eye far beyond anything Hagit can imagine.

Right up to the point that Harper turns GI Jane, Jones’ fourth Jennings saga maintains a nice balance among mystery, travel writing and domestic drama.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8264-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2013


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