Title: The Lost Catacomb
Author: Shifra Hochberg
Length: 358 pages
Release Date: March 2014
Imprint: Enigma Press
Synopsis: An intoxicating blend of Vatican thriller and heart-rending love story, THE LOST CATACOMB is a stunning debut novel set against the backdrop of the Holocaust in Italy. At its heart is Nicola Page, a beautiful young art historian who flies to Rome to assess a newly discovered catacomb of enigmatic provenance. Its magnificent frescoes hold the clues to a centuries-old murder and the existence of a fabled treasure from the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.
Assisted by a handsome Italian archaeologist, Nicola is quickly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and peril, masterminded by a powerful priest who is determined to destroy those who would reveal the dark secrets of the past. And as Nicola uncovers layer after layer of this deadly past, she is brought face to face with shocking facts about her own family history—facts that will forever change the course of her life.
The Lost Catacomb is a fascinating novel filled with mystery and intrigue. The thick plot is wildly twisted and intensely gripping, which keeps readers on edge until the end.
After losing both parents at a young age, Nicola was raised by her grandparents. When he grandfather passes, Nicola's only living relative, that she is aware of, is her grandmother, Elena. However, Nicola's Italian heritage has been shrouded in darkness her entire life and now more than ever she desires to know who she really is. With the discovery of a mysterious catacomb in Rome, Nicola, an art historian, is asked to assist an Italian archaeologist uncover the truth about the puzzling find, but Nicola ends up uncovering more than she's bargained for. Nicola delves deeper into the past and is stunned, not only by the catacomb, but by her own family's secrets. As the truth becomes more clear, Nicola realizes she may face the same tragic fate as those from the past. Now, Nicola has all the pieces to the puzzle, but can she escape with her life?
The Lost Catacomb is eloquently written. The author's vast knowledge of Jewish and Catholic religions and traditions as well as the fascist involvement in Italy is evident which allows her to create a story that is well-articulated and believable. The characters are also well-developed, Nicola in particular is easily likable and I found myself sympathizing with her and longing for her to find all the answers she is seeking. The way so many lives are intertwined in past and present adds to the mystery and is completely engrossing.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Lost Catacomb. Available on Amazon.
Shifra Hochberg has a Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and has published over 20 academic essays, mainly in the fields of nineteenth-century fiction and feminist literary theory. She is currently writing another historical novel, this time set in France.
In the course of writing her novel, she traveled to Italy more than a dozen times, making on-site visits to all locations in THE LOST CATACOMB and meeting with families of Italian Holocaust survivors. Her favorite Italian bakery, Il Boccione, is in the ghetto of Rome and makes the world's best chocolate ricotta cake.
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