REVIEW ONE: Working with Kim was just a joy for me. He was so interested in his subject and had so much knowledge to share about it. Saudi Arabia and the Saudi princes are much in the news and he brought an insightful prospective to both the Kingdom its rulers. The idea of the United States sending a woman as consul general to negotiate in such a man-centric environment was surely an inspired one. Kim lived for many years in Saudi Arabia and you could certainly tell this from the depth of his knowledge about that country and the Americans who live in it. I learned a great deal that I had never even suspected about the people living there, both Saudi and Americans, and the intricacies of their relationships. Bravo, Kim for bringing this aspect of the world’s culture to such vivid life!
Review by Deborah Johnson, Author of The Secret of Magic
REVIEW TWO: This is a riveting story of a woman’s journey to find true love after her beloved husband is cruelly taken away by barbaric hands. Does she ever find that true love to replace her husband’s? All the twists and turns of the plot lead up to this final and surprising denouement. Judith Sanders and her husband, Roger, are stationed in Saudi Arabia, in the Al Khobar region along the Persian Gulf. It was a dangerous time for a Westerner to be living in Saudi, and when her beloved husband Roger is killed in cold blood by terrorists who entered their villa, Judith is totally shattered. The rest of the novel is about how Judith comes to terms (if she ever does) with her husband’s death. She returns to the US, but in a surprising twist, finds herself back in Saudi Arabia, and this time as a representative of the US government. The author shows a deep understanding of life in Saudi, and the many difficulties a Westerner faces when living in that region. But he never makes the “other side” appear totally barbaric- it was only a few elements. This part of the book is the most gripping, as not only do we read about all the curtailment of freedom experienced while living there, but also the very real danger that all Americans face, even those living within the Consulate walls. Judith shows her true mettle in this part of the story. Judith’s journey takes her back to the US and then onwards to Fiji. Although she is young and beautiful, and therefore attracts the interest of many suitors, she cannot get rid of Roger from her mind. Does she take another husband? The ending is unexpected but in keeping with her character.I’d recommend this book to all those interested in plot-driven fiction, as there are many twists and turns; it also throws light on what life is like in Saudi, especially from a Western perspective. Throughout the novel, Judith’s character stands as steadfast as a rock. I felt the ending was a little unconvincing, but this does not take away from the tale, told simply and lucidly. I look forward to more books from Kim Hester.
Maybe the most telling lines in the book are these spoken by the main character: “Never trust anyone in the Middle East, with the possible exception of the Israelis. The attitude of the others, both leaders and common men, is to hate Americans and to use any means possible to bring us to our knees.”
Hester has done a good job of bringing the Middle East to life for those of us not familiar with this area or its culture. He highlights various aspects of this part of the world and helps the reader understand a lot of the backstory which gives life to the drama we read about in the news. Those details are important especially as Islamic terrorism becomes a part of everyday life worldwide.
Review by Dr. Thomas Law of Norman, Oklahoma