The Deadliest Lie

Fiction - Mystery - Historical
208 Pages
Reviewed on 08/28/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite

June Trop's mystery and historical fiction novel, The Deadliest Lie, is set in Roman Alexandria in 46 CE. Miriam bat Isaac is 16, well educated, and engaged to Noah, the son of Amram, her father's best friend and business partner. She is under pressure to set a date for the marriage. Miriam is undecided because she wants to be an alchemist. She borrows two priceless scrolls from Judah, a jeweler and an alchemist in the League of Alchemists. Miriam is very frightened when her notes and the League's scrolls are stolen from the family home. The information is secret and could endanger all Jews. The next few days are harrowing, filled with tension and danger as she suspects the thief could be her father, Isaac, or her twin brother, Binyamin, or her fiancé, Noah. Miriam is, however, determined to find the thief and recover the scrolls.

I enjoyed reading June Trop's The Deadliest Lie for its strong characters. I liked the richly imagined details of Roman Alexandria that permeate the entire story because that added depth to the characters and to the significance of the stolen scrolls. Miriam is an independent thinker, intensely curious and determined to be an alchemist. She is a keen observer of nature, of people, of the city. She is afraid but courageous, willing to take risks. I liked the way Trop weaves together and creates tension in the novel through Miriam's life, her family, and the stolen scrolls. A fascinating novel, inspired to some degree by an early alchemist, Maria Hebrea, who became the legendary founder of Western alchemy.