My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautifully written novel by the erudite Nicholas Graham. Set in Biblical times, this is absolutely not a book that staunchly evangelical Christians are going to enjoy but everyone else will. There is much that you will recognise from the Gospel stories and, of course, many of the same characters appear. But Graham manages to give us a very different story to that which we are traditionally told. This is a deeply political world full of spies and secret plots waiting to be uncovered.
While it is a whodunnit – the body of Yehuda is just the start – the reader is actually far more interested in Solomon, our hero of the piece. In this sense, the book is a beautiful work of art. As I’ve often said in my reviews, a good novel is one where I care about the characters after the last page is turned. My goodness, with this novel I was instantly reaching for the sequel through the ether, trying to clutch a book that does not (yet) exist because I HAVE to know what happens to Solomon. It is to be hoped that the author will embark on more books covering this protagonist as we’ve not had enough of Solomon and his vineyard yet!
As historical fiction, the novel is as flawless as any other I’ve come across no matter the genre. I am reasonably schooled in Biblical history and theology and while no expert I am very familiar with the turf. Graham knows his stuff and it tells in the incredible details he scatters liberally – yet never intrusively – throughout the story. I feel like I’m there when reading the story. There’s never a moment where the magic is lost; never a time when you can’t believe you’re in Palestine. It takes quite some skill to pull that off. Has Graham succeeded in pulling the wool over all our eyes all of the time? Well, he has succeeded with this reader, that’s for sure.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in Biblical era fiction which gives alternative meaning to events of the Gospels that is utterly convincing and compelling. Whodunnit fans will enjoy it but so will anyone who just wants to read well-written fiction which is beautiful in the telling. Gripping and moving to the very end.
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at email@example.com. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review. His reviews have been read more than 2.9 million times.