Set in Palestine in 1938, this mystery tracks the path of Lily Sampson, a young archeologist, as she investigates the murder of her mentor. Dodging authorities and cross-fire, Lilly maneuvers through risk and safety, deception, attraction, and unabated curiosity. Her circuitous path brings her to grasp the forces at work creating, and resisting the formation of the State of Israel.
Lily is talented and female in the almost all male work world of the 1930’s. She is obsessed by a sense of personal responsibility to the artifacts she uncovers, for they connect to her family’s emotional history as much as to the archeology and politics of the time. Lily’s work places her in the center of British, Zionist, and Nazi intrigue and the novel traces her growing ability to contend with many characters and situations that are not what they seem.
Occasionally, author Aileen Baron’s narrative perspective shifts awkwardly, as though we are inside Lily’s thoughts one moment, and observing her coldly from the outside on the next page. However, rich descriptions of Palestinian-settler violence, early kibbutz life, Nazi functionaries, Arab weddings, desert archeological digs, and the golden beauty of Jerusalem’s streets fill this novel with a graphic and rough beauty.