A clever, complex tale that should pique readers’ curiosity about Genghis Khan and leave them looking forward to the...


A debut novel combines elements of archaeology, historical fiction, and geopolitical thrillers.

James Andrews’ life is busy, but he doesn’t think he has much to show for it. An archaeology professor at the University of Virginia, he’s spent years digging in Mongolia, dreaming of finding the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. But this year, he’s only recovered a few ancient roof tiles and a tiny fragment of stray human bone. Andrews tells Parker Winthrop, the Asian Historical Society’s representative in Mongolia, that the bone probably belongs to “a peasant shot by the Soviets for trespassing and left for dead.” But everything changes when DNA analysis of the bone marrow points to Genghis Khan himself. And what should be cause for celebration also yields something far darker, as forces around the world have their own agendas for Mongolia and this discovery. Even people Andrews thought he could trust—or love—are caught up in the conflict in ways he couldn’t have foreseen. At the same time, the narrative offers brief windows into the story of Temujin and Jamuka, two boys in ancient Mongolia, one of whom will become Genghis Khan. Amid betrayal, mystery, and espionage, Andrews has his work cut out for him trying to get to the most valuable thing of all: the truth. Pelkey’s insightful novel moves at a quick pace, but it’s at no loss for details, and early scenes returning from the dig site or in Andrews’ lecture hall provide an excellent sense of the historical significance of Genghis Khan. What’s more, exposition smoothly flows in the text, pointing out the geopolitical reality of Mongolia, which is on the brink of a modern-day gold rush: “ ‘What about the Mongolians?’ Andrews asked. ‘It’s their country.’ ‘Road kill,’ Parker said with a flick of his hand.” On top of that, the characters’ uncertain loyalties give the book a sense of intrigue and emotionality, and the brotherhood and struggle in the Temujin and Jamuka sections only add to this unexpected depth. Finally, the fact that Andrews has a lot of uncertainty in his life—due to his frequent travels, far-flung friends, and short-lived romantic relationships—makes him a more sympathetic and relatable protagonist than most in these genres.

A clever, complex tale that should pique readers’ curiosity about Genghis Khan and leave them looking forward to the author’s next book.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9968426-7-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: SDP Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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