With his fast-paced new novel, Edmonton writer and photographer Tyler Enfield introduces young readers to the harrowing world of archaeological treasure hunts, Dan Brown–style, but with a thought-provoking and humanist twist.
When 12-year-old Hannah Dubuisson arrives in Jerusalem from her home in Brussels to spend the summer working with her grandfather, Henri, on one of his archaeological digs, she is surprised to find he is not there to meet her flight. Worse, as she exits the airport, she notices a suspicious-looking young man on a motorcycle watching her. When he makes his way over to confront her, Hannah – precociously resourceful – hops into a taxi and asks the driver to take her to the Old City, with the motorcyclist in hot pursuit. After ditching her pursuer in the ancient, winding paths of the Old City, Hannah immediately faces another unsettling situation when a group of boys mark her as easy prey. They are shooed away by Samir, who calls himself George Clooney, owing to his love of American films and his (purported) resemblance to the actor. Forced at first to rely on and trust Clooney, Hannah soon finds the boy to be a true friend and important ally in her quest to find Henri.
As Hannah begins to investigate her grandfather’s disappearance, she discovers that Henri was close to finding one of the world’s great lost treasures, King Solomon’s Temple. Now it is up to Hannah and Clooney to complete Henri’s work, armed only with their wits, a camera, a guidebook, a mysterious journal, and a coded clue from Henri involving the titular “magic eye.” They face off against the police, local thugs, and a mysterious order – the Cancellarii – that has kidnapped Henri and is intent on getting the treasure for itself.
Written in declarative prose that allows little chance to catch one’s breath, the novel lays on the thriller aspects a little thick. Things happen too quickly for there to be any real sense of tension or suspense. Where the book shines is in its exploration of modern-day Jerusalem and environs, where the centres of three great religions sit uneasily side-by-side, and where a Jewish girl and a Muslim boy work together to find a treasure beyond anything they could imagine. The book’s message of tolerance and inclusiveness is powerful, and one delivered with a good deal of grace.