The Healer’s Daughters is a modern-day thriller set in Turkey, among the many major archaeological sites but it has its roots in the early days of the Current Era, when the area was a major health spa, overseen by the renowned healer, Galen. Author Jay Amberg introduces us to an archaeologist by the name of Özlem Boroğlu who considers herself the guardian of Galen’s ruins, around Bergama. After being unceremoniously dumped by the Government when her previous excavation was flooded to provide water for agriculture, Özlem is understandably bitter and guards Galen’s secrets closely. Her daughter Elif is a sculptor who still worships the Goddesses of antiquity and Özlem’s son is a tourist guide, caught up in the lucrative trading and black-market for antiquities, including many looted by the ISIL Caliphate and sold to unscrupulous collectors the world over. When terrorism strikes close to home, for Özlem and her family, it is unclear who the perpetrators really are; DAESH and their violent, inhumane campaign for power and notoriety, or is it actually closer to home – a wealthy illegal antiquities trading family wanting to make a very big point to Özlem.
The Healer’s Daughter had all the elements that go into making a compelling thriller – international terrorism; a greedy, powerful and ruthless criminal family; a group of inept, corrupt and “bought” government officials; a secret, elite, and clean anti-terror department of the said, corrupt government; and a principled, high-minded, academic who will stop at nothing to ensure her country’s past and powerful heritage is preserved for the ages. Author Jay Amberg’s style was straight-forward and easy to read. The flashbacks to Galen’s time were, perhaps, not as frequent as I might have wished, but ultimately this was a modern-day thriller, with a basis in the past, so that was fine. The link to the past was critical, though and, as a reader, I did appreciate the context. I also enjoyed the aspect of Elif’s Goddess worship and would have appreciated more exploration of that side of the story. In summary, though, this was a thoroughly readable and topical thriller that I can easily recommend to anyone who loves modern thrillers with historical twists, as I do.