Clonmac's Bridge: An Archeological Mystery
by Jeffrey Perren
A review by Linda Root with a giveaway copy for a lucky winner
Please see below
Please see below
Garvin’s new target is his rival’s long-time obsession with an almost mythical Irish Bridge, which Clonmac believes to have once spanned the River Shannon. When it seems that Professor Clonmac has a shot at finding it, the going gets dicey. Clonmac’s chances of locating and raising his bridge is no better than his funding and at first Daley seems content in making certain none is found. But as Clonmac refuses to let go of his dream, Daley and his co-conspirator begin interfering with more than money. By the time Griffin Clonmac has selected a potential dive site, he has been thwarted and bamboozled at every turn, and the worst is yet to come. Some powerful person or entity is willing to spill blood.
Meanwhile, nearly half a world away another archeologist is having problems of her own. Aristocratic Mari Quesne, daughter of a wealthy man with political connections, is about to have her project pulled out from under her because her father thinks her profession is inappropriate for someone of her station. He demands she shift her energies to getting married and raising children, and he has the clout to have her license to dig revoked when she refuses. After any chance of a career in South America dissolves, she has no offers but one in Ireland. Even before professors Clonmac and Quesne combine forces to raise the bridge, their associates begin dying. Mari loses a young assistant in a cave-in and Clonmac’s new protégé is murdered while on a dive.
Not long into the book, Perren introduces a parallel story line involving another man’s obsession with the bridge—a ninth century monk with a mysterious superior who seems intent to keep Ireland in the Dark Ages. Thus, two heroes emerge—the man who sought to bridge the River Shannon at Clonmacnoise Monastery in the ninth century, and the twenty-first century celebrity archeologist who seeks to raise it from its watery grave.
The book is not without its share of intriguing twists. There is a side adventure in the world of corporate high finance and a not especially flattering glimpse into the politics of the Roman Church. While a romance between Mari and Griffin is predictable, it is not the only love interest in the story. It is also refreshing when some of the villains turn out to be rather decent after all. Perren keeps his readers hooked by hinting that as bad as the bad guys are, there is a bigger and much darker force lurking backstage pulling their strings. His artful plotting provides clues suggesting the same force that struck out against Brother Riordan in the ninth century may be behind the assault a thousand years later on Griffin Clonmac’s dream.
As the story develops, the bridge itself becomes an object of mysterious properties. It has been submerged for ages and yet remains remarkably preserved. Its condition attracts the interest of board members of an American chemical company whose self-serving motives lead to their funding of Professor Clonmac’s project, but it does not explain why they and other individuals and institutions who should be most supportive of Clonmac’s plan to raise the bridge are precisely the ones determined to sabotage it. The author does a fine job of keeping the secret of the bridge’s mysterious properties obscure until very close to the final paragraph and the book’s successful conclusion.
Jeffrey Perren is a highly-credentialed writer and his skills as a wordsmith are high caliber. The book is well written, researched and edited with only a handful of formatting errors in more than four hundred pages of complex text. He seems as if he would be comfortable on an archeological dig. He also knows his medieval Irish history and a good bit of the politics of the early church. Overall, Perren’s characters both major and minor are well drawn and the historical setting is adequately researched. Any lack of passion in the romance that springs up between the archeologists is excusable, since Griffin Clonmac’s first love is the bridge.
In conclusion, in spite of the crowd of distinguished authors writing in the action-adventure historical fiction hybrid genre, there is room for Jeffrey Perren’s books on the shelf. I am making space in hopes of adding more. While it is not among the much clichéd page turners, Clonmac’s Bridge is a surprisingly satisfying reading experience which I recommend to readers who enjoy the works of Steve Berry, Ken Follett, Douglas Preston and others who meld the past with the present and come up with a taut mystery worthy of the genre.
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About the Author
Jeffrey Perren is the author of Cossacks In Paris, historical fiction set in the Napoleonic era, and many other novels. He wrote his first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at 17. Since then he has published at award-winning sites and magazines from the United States to New Zealand.Jeffrey's influences are Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, R.F. Delderfield and E.M. Forster.
Educated in philosophy at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and physics at UC Irvine, he lives in Sandpoint, Idaho.
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