The last time Jila Wells spent time in Peru, it ended in blood and bullets. Her desire to return is nonexistent until Ben Jaurez walks back into her life. He promises better security and a big payday, but the real lure is finding the secret that lies hidden in the Moche pyramid.
American Caliphate blends modern archaeology with ancient religious persecution, secret voyages, and a heavy dose of action. Doonan did a fantastic job of bringing together elements of historical facts and modern adventure. I enjoyed learning about the various cultures presented in this book. I had never heard of the Moche before, but their culture and the area they lived are both quite interesting to read about. The conflict between Spanish Christians and Muslims was not something I was terribly familiar with either. Doonen was able to set the stage early on so you could relate to and truly understand the choices the Ibanez family made, and hope for their success.
Being that this is an action/adventure novel, you would expect some excitement to pop up occasionally. In this area, Doonan didn't disappoint. Heavy duty machine guns aren't a typical necessity on an excavation site, but with the people trying to stop Ben and Jila, extra precautions are probably a good idea. There was a very good balance between relaying historical facts to the reader and keeping the action moving. I was never bored while reading. I was continually fascinated either by the stories of Spain and Peru, or the archaeological crew trying to unravel mysteries and dodge bullets.
Characters are one of the most important aspects of a book. If the characters aren't someone the reader cares about, the book will be lacking. American Caliphate offers a cast of interesting characters. Ben and Jila have a complicated past that is made apparent within the first few pages. Tomas and Diego Ibanez make only a short appearance, but I felt connected to them right away. Even the local drug lord was fun to meet and try to figure out. There were no flat characters, but I did feel like Doonan could have utilized his unique characters more than he did. The focus was so much on the mystery and search that the characters weren't delved into as much as they could have been. I would have liked to really get into their heads and emotions more.
The multiple storylines were interesting as well. I wasn't expecting the CIA side of the story, but I enjoyed the different viewpoint it offered. Jimmy Segura manages to tangle himself into this story, and watching him try to escape it proved entertaining. I was a bit disappointed that the Ibanez storyline didn't continue throughout the book. I thought their story could have really expanded the scope of the book. I would have rather read more of their story than just have it summed up later by the other characters. The only other area of the book I had a small issue with was the editing. There were a surprising amount of errors for a traditionally published book. It wasn't a lot, certainly not enough to detract from the book, but being a writer myself I did notice the typos. Aside from that, the writing was very good. Doonan is a strong writer with a writing style that engages readers and pulls them through the story effortlessly. This was a wonderful book I would definitely encourage people to pick up.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It was a fun, fascinating read. I learned a lot and was entertained the whole way through. It was a fairly quick read, great for summer!
Who would I recommend this book to? Action adventure readers, history readers (especially those interested in South American history), those interested in archaeology, and anyone else looking for an entertaining book. Basically, if you're a fan of authors like Dan Brown, Steve Berry, or Michael Crichton you'll enjoy this book.
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