Past and present intersect in stunning archaeological thriller

The Oracle, by D. J. Niko. Medallion Press. 362 pages. Trade paperback $14.99.

The third installment of the Sarah Weston Chronicles finds Sarah, a British archaeologist, in Thebes. She and anthropologist Daniel Madigan, her professional partner and love interest, are working together (and also apart) helping to investigate the theft of Greek antiquities from a local museum. This theft, however, is not merely the usual pillage for profit. It is more like pillage for prophet! TheOracle

This highly original mystery has several layers and dimensions. Ms. Niko makes it difficult to discern, and for her characters to discern, which actions pose a serious threat and which ones are well-planned distractions to disguise the threat.

Neo-paganism is on the rise in Greece and elsewhere. There is a growing cult threatening to undermine monotheistic culture and religion. The ancient shrines where oracles once uttered the wishes of the deities are being taken over to fuel this resurgence of pagan power.

Or is this activity a complex feint – a way of gaining access to the sacred places of antiquity – places from which an incredible terrorist force can threaten the modern Western world? Certain artifacts and a long-hidden map are the necessary keys that pit the forces of light, represented of course by Daniel and Sarah, against the dark forces – an array of strange bedfellows twisted by raging resentments and driven toward revenge.

Stresses in the relationship between Daniel and Sarah are aggravated by the plotting of those who wish to use them or get them out of the way. Their love for one another is leveraged as a tool to control them, as each fears for the other’s safety and is manipulated by that fear. How can they reunite and lead those who would uncover and stop the greatest, most destructive terrorist effort ever set in motion? One that would literally rattle the world by generating earthquakes?

D. J Niko, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

D. J Niko, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Ms. Niko deepens reader involvement by creating a second time line covering a slice of ancient history – 393 CE. Here the forces at work are the Christian suppression of pagan culture and the courageous resistance of the priestess Aristea of Delphi. These chapters are artfully composed, especially the descriptions of place and of Aristea’s state of mind. However, they do not match the highly suspenseful drama of the chapters set in the present. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 11, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 12 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Oracle

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