Behind the Sun by Sherrie Todd-Beshore is an ambitious book that is just shy of 600 pages. At the crux of the story is a mystery about an ancient people who captivated Dr. Guy Williams, an archaeologist, after Williams uncovers a key piece of documentation. A captain’s log surfaces after a ship sank two hundred years before. Williams is fascinated by the ancient culture and wants to secure the funds to unearth more about them since many questioned that they ever existed. However, he is unable to get the money needed and he’s never able to fulfill his dream. Years later, Dr. Jack Sutter approaches Williams about the possibility of searching for the people that Williams was enthralled by. Sutter has more reasons beyond intellectual curiosity. He’s dealing with a past event that he thought was long forgotten and he desperately wants to get away and focus on something else. Sutter secures the funds for an expedition and enlists the help of five colleagues to travel to northern Africa to prove once and for all that the ancient culture did exist and that they played a vital role in the advancement of humankind. Every member of Sutter’s team has their own demons that they are battling. To complicate matters, northern Africa is on the brink of war. Will all the obstacles prevent Sutter and his team from finding what they are looking for?
The author spins a captivating tale about archeology, murder, politics, history, and family dynamics. All of the characters come to life. The reader may think he or she knows what’s going to happen next, but Todd-Beshore drops so many twists and turns that it’s best to give up guessing and just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s amazing that the author was able to describe so many different places with such vivid detail, transporting the reader from Canada, the United States, and then to Africa. Either the author has done extensive research or has traveled quite a bit. Maybe both.
While there is much to rave about there is one issue that needs to be addressed: the editing. In a book that is 599 pages long it’s completely understandable to find a few errors. However, there are way too many in this edition. The first couple hundred pages are decent, but after that the typos appear more frequently. At one point, the author referred to one character named James Bruce and then on the same page called him John Bruce. On many occasions the wrong word is used or misspelled.
A developmental editor would have been extremely useful to help shape this story. While Todd-Beshore did a wonderful job adding many twists and turns, sometimes the story meanders slowly and loses focus. So much is going on at once and it can be confusing for many readers. One of the key plot points is dropped completely and is never resolved. And the ending comes out of leftfield. After leading up to this point for over 500 pages all of a sudden the author stops the story. It’s baffling why the author brought the reader along so far and then dismisses the major “Aha!” moment and leaves the reader hanging. Will there be a sequel to deal with all the issues introduced in the last fifty pages?
Behind the Sun shows much promise and in the hands of a skilled editor it could be polished into a wonderful tale that may captivate many readers. These issues wouldn’t be hard to fix and hopefully they will be. Sherri Todd-Beshore knows how to create flawed characters that are still likeable and easy to cheer for.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Since this review, the author would like to let readers know she has revised her work and republished after a thorough proofread.