Fay, Kim. The Map of Lost Memories
In 1925, unappreciated museum employee Irene Blum heads to Cambodia to make a name for herself. Passed over for the promotion to Brooke Museum curator Irene believes she more than deserves, Irene is motivated partly by a sense of revenge against the museum’s trustees and partly by her deep life-long passion for the culture and history of the vanished Khmer Empire. She has discovered, in the effects of her recently deceased father, a missionary’s journal from the 1800s which gives tantalizing clues about the location of an undiscovered temple in which rest copper scrolls containing the lost history of the Khmer. If Irene can find the scrolls and bring them back to America, her career will be made, her fame assured. On the advice of her mentor, Irene enlists the aid of the beautiful, intelligent, and mercurial Simone Merlin, a Cambodian scholar in her own right but also a drug addict and the wife of an abusive Communist-supporter. Joined by others as her quest proceeds, Irene must make her way through the shadowy Shanghai underground and into the politically fraught jungles of Cambodia itself, pursued at every turn and hampered by secrets that begin rising to the fore.
A literary take on a sort of female Indiana Jones, The Map of Lost Memoriesis an exhilarating page-turner with fully-formed characters, well-described settings, and beautiful writing. Recommended.