Sunday, July 18, 2010

165 (2010 #30). The Clouds Beneath the Sun

by Mackenzie Ford

I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I chose it as one I'd be interested in reviewing based on the description. The setting of an archaeological dig in Kenya in 1961 was intriguing. Unfortunately, unlikeable characters, inane dialogue, a plodding storyline, and too much melodrama were not offset by the interesting details about African animals and terrain, and there wasn't enough information about the dig itself, or the background of Kenya's quest for independence at that time.

Mackenzie Ford is the pen name of British historian Peter Watson, who spent ten years recently as a research associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. The finds at the dig sound plausible, but the idea that two professional archaeologists would willfully desecrate a Masai burial ground (a major plot point), is not. His female protagonist, Natalie Nelson, is a cliche - first obsessing about her breakup with her married lover, then obsessing about sex. Apparently the isolation of the dig contributes to this, as three of the male archaeologists (including a pair of brothers) fall in love with the whiskey-swilling, cigarette-smoking Natalie, and two others (oddly, the two who die) are homosexuals. I just couldn't buy it.

At 448 pages, the book is too long by half that, and I had a hard time finishing the book - I only did because I needed to write this review. This is not a book I could re-read or recommend.

© Amanda Pape - 2010

[This advance reader edition will be passed on to someone else to read and hopefully review.]

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