By Don Helin
In her historical thriller, THE RIDDLE OF SOLOMON, D.J. Niko spins a story so exciting that Mary Anna Evans, award-winning author of ARTIFACTS AND WOUNDED EARTH says, “Like a sandstorm roaring out of the Judean Desert, THE RIDDLE OF SOLOMON rips readers out of the familiar world, dropping them breathless in a place where ancient kings still keep their secrets. D. J. Niko’s storytelling carries the grit of desert dust and the seductive scent of incense on every page as Sarah Weston races with a madman to save the treasures that King Solomon left behind.”
Archaeologist Sarah Weston and anthropologist Daniel Madigan are working on the Qaryat al-Fau archaeological site in Saudi Arabia when they uncover a mysterious ancient scroll written in the form of a riddle. Sarah and Daniel follow a trail of clues leading to India, Jerusalem, and the Judean wilderness, where they discover the truth about the scroll: it was written by King Solomon as a map to an ancient manuscript containing an astounding revelation.
Journeying through the worlds of the occult, corporate greed, geopolitical conflict, Judaic mysticism, and biblical archeology, Sarah and Daniel race against time and a formidable enemy to uncover the powerful ancient message that could have an explosive impact on modern Israel. But is the world ready for the revelation it contains?
I had the chance to catch up with D.J. Niko the other day and ask her a few questions.
Is there anything special you’d like to tell us about THE RIDDLE OF SOLOMON?
It is Book II in The Sarah Weston Chronicles series of archaeological thrillers, and it explores biblical archeology, which is extremely controversial. My characters, Sarah and Daniel, come upon an ancient scroll with a message in the form of a riddle. As the story unfolds, they attempt to decipher the text–with many setbacks, of course–and discover it was written by ancient history’s most influential king, Solomon. The revelations the scroll contains are astounding and have present-day ramifications. Sarah and Daniel risk everything to keep the message from falling into the hands of a delusional, extremely dangerous madman who believes he is the Messiah.
Did any particular event inspire the plot?
I was inspired by recent reports of Israel, traditionally an oil-poor nation in the midst of the world’s richest oil reserves, potentially finding oil and natural gas, and the conflict that has ensued as a result. I put that present-day conflict together with ancient prophecies and the beliefs of Jewish Messianism to weave a plot that brings together the present, past and future in an action-packed but smart adventure.
What are you doing to promote your book?
I lecture quite a bit on topics relating to archeology and religion, so I will be giving some talks on biblical archeology to promote THE RIDDLE. I also have a blog tour planned June 24 – July 19 and a lot of traditional book events as well: signings, library talks, launch parties, book festivals etc. See my website for details.
I am working on a historical novel that complements THE RIDDLE OF SOLOMON. It is set in tenth century BCE Israel and details the collapse of the United Monarchy and King Solomon’s great empire. It is essentially the (very elaborate) back story on the artifacts uncovered in THE RIDDLE.
When you’re not writing, what are you doing (hobbies, family, etc)?
I have 4-year-old twins, so my free time involves a lot of art projects, Lego buildings, and playing chase. Other than that, I love to travel (much of it for research) and cook. I make a mean curry.
Sounds like you’re really busy. Thanks for your time and I look forward to reading THE RIDDLE OF SOLOMON.
D.J. Niko is the author of The Sarah Weston Chronicles series of archaeological thrillers. Her debut novel, THE TENTH SAINT, won the Gold Medal in popular fiction in the juried Florida Book Awards. A career journalist and editor who has traveled the globe, Niko writes about the world’s remote places and cultures with the authenticity that can only come from firsthand experience. She is a native of Athens, Greece, and now resides in Florida with her family.