Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Set in 1925, this sophisticated, character-rich adventure begins in the Pacific Northwest, but most of the action takes place in the politically charged city of Shanghai and dense, steamy jungles of Cambodia, home of the ancient Khmer empire. Irene Blum is sure she is going to be put in charge of the Seattle museum she felt owed its success to her resolute, behind the scenes and not always legal acquisitions work, but a man with a degree is chosen in her place. Determined to prove her worth, she sets off for Southeast Asia on a quest to find a set of scrolls believed to chronicle the forgotten history of the Khmer civilization.
Irene’s mentor and sponsor Henry Simms is dying and she’s driven to find the scrolls quickly while he can still enjoy the discovery. Guided by him Irene puts together an expedition team, including her enigmatic new lover, a drug addicted revolutionary and a renowned Khmer researcher, but long before they begin the arduous trek into the jungle in search of the forgotten temple said to contain the scrolls, it’s clear the conflicting motivations of the team could lead to violence. While Irene wants to take the scrolls to the United States to set up a new museum she can curate, others want them to be left alone, or kept in Cambodia to be studied there, or sold to finance anti-colonial groups working to overthrow the French.
Besides having an exciting story, The Map of Lost Memories is more substantial than some other thrillers I’ve read, exploring the inner motivations of its multi-dimensional characters and immersing the reader in the diverse culture, transitioning politics and exotic landscapes of 1920’s Southeast Asia.