I have been really looking forward to reading this book – since spending a couple of months in Southeast Asia a few years ago, I’m always eager to read good literature based in the area. And this book didn’t disappoint – I really enjoyed it and found it quite a page turner as it drew towards its conclusion.
The book is set in the 1920s, and is based around Irene, a museum curator and treasure hunter, passed over for promotion at the museum she has dedicated her life to, because of her sex. Faced with a tantalising proposition from an old family friend, and manipulative mentor, Henry Simms, she sets off to Cambodia in search of lost copper scrolls which describe the history of the Khmer civilisation, via China where she seeks the assistance of Simone, a Frenchwoman with a dangerous husband. Enlisting the help of two men along the way, as well as some Cambodian guides, they set off in search of lost treasure.
I loved the wonderful sense of place in the novel, which took me right back to the memorable week I spent exploring the temples of Angkor, and and I found myself cringing as they pushed through the jungle as I was terrified of them crossing the dangerous wildlife that lives there! It is obviously a well researched novel and I was so impressed at the level of knowledge of both the Khmer civilisation and the sort of archaeology that took place at this time. I loved Irene as a character, but wanted to shake Simone at times, and was perhaps slightly less certain of the men, but they were linked very cleverly. I did find some of the adventure a little ‘Indiana Jones’ at times, but overall it’s a fantastic first novel.