||Club Lighthouse Publishing
Searching for Eden
Keith Madsen, Author
When all you have ever loved is lost, where do you go to find if life can be good again? For Evan Jordan, searching for that answer takes him through some of the most war-torn areas of the world…to Eden.
Evan and friends travel through Iran and Iraq, and even to the Island of Bahrain, looking for clues to the Garden's reality, and whether it might still be found. They dig in ancient cemeteries, climb ziggurats, race through war zones and examine bizarre art carved into human skulls; all the time seeking the secret to humanity's foundational story. In the process of searching they run afoul of the Iranian government for getting too close to nuclear sites, they battle militants, and they have to decide who to trust in a very dangerous part of the world. Will what they find make it worth the risk?
When Evan Jordan's 14-year old daughter dies of cancer, he goes on a quest to find a place where children don't die, and where life is still good. The search is inspired by an interest his dying daughter expressed in the Garden of Eden. Could it be that such a place still exists somewhere? Using a small inheritance, he goes searching for that garden, hoping thereby to rediscover the goodness and innocence he lost with the young girl's death. Evan's story intersects with those of s beautiful divorced archaeologist, a 14-year old Hispanic prostitute, and an Iranian woman who killed her rapist; all of whom join Evan in his quest. The journey brings together Christians and Jews, Muslims and skeptics, all looking to recover a sense of goodness at the heart of life and human relationship.
“You have a child?”
Evan knew he nodded again, although this time he guessed that it was almost
imperceptible. “A daughter.”
Evan’s whole body seemed to freeze over. The only movement he could feel was a twitch at the right corner of his mouth. Carmen looked his way, and her voice grew quieter.
Evan wanted to open his mouth, but all he could manage at first was to get it twitching more. Breathing now seemed difficult, even in the midst of the fresh night air. He felt like
crying out, and still his mouth wouldn’t open. Evan focused. He brought his breathing rate down. He shut his eyes and relaxed the muscles in his chest, back and shoulders. He let his mouth open, and then he spoke.
“Fourteen. She’s fourteen.”
Evan did not look directly at Carmen, but he could feel her eyes looking at him. She sat perfectly still and did not speak.
“The park was always her favourite place when she was little. When I finished a day of teaching, she would want me to take her to the park. The first day of summer break, after
school was out for the summer, she would want me to take her to the park. Two years ago when her mother died of cirrhosis, related to her alcoholism, the day after the funeral, she
wanted me to take her to the park. I always climbed wherever she wanted to climb, and when she swung high, I would always cheer her bravery…and yes, she loved ‘underdogs,’ because
she knew that would send her as high as she could go.”
Evan could feel a small head rest lightly on his shoulder, and he could smell the sweetness of what seemed to be her freshly washed hair.
“You’re speaking in the past…” she whispered.
Evan nodded. “That hospital over there. She’s in a bed on the fourth floor. She has cancer, Carmen. She wakes up every now and then and smiles at me. But even that hurts. I can’t lift her high into the air any more, Carmen. I can’t. I can’t even make her squeal or smile. She’s lying there in bed, Carmen, and she’s dying, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it.”
Evan heard the quiet weeping on his shoulder, and he felt the tears trickling down onto his arm, even as his own tears now cooled his warm cheeks.
“Fourteen-year-old girls shouldn’t die, Carmen. They shouldn’t.”
Searching for Eden
A classic hero's journey, Searching for Eden tells the tale of a journey through a region of the world that is still forbidding and mysterious to most Americans – the Fertile Crescent region of Iran and Iraq that gave birth to civilization thousands of years ago. Political scientist Evan Jordan, plagued by deep questions of mortality and meaning, determines that his answers lie in the mythical Garden of Eden. Jordan finds a guide in archaeologist Jessica Santiago, and an unlikely traveling companion in an underage prostitute named Carmen Ortega whom he seeks to save from a life on the streets.
Most of the action of this book takes place in contemporary Iran, a nation that is largely unknown to Americans and suspicious of US citizens within its borders. As the story unfolds, the complex political situation surrounding this small nation on the brink of nuclear power is revealed by a rich variety of characters, none of whom can be called two-dimensional. Security official Ahmad Sahimi is a fiercely loyal Iranian patriot whose motives are driven as much by a love of his family as a love of his country. Afsaneh, an Iranian woman victimized by circumstance, displays an inspiring level of inner strength. The American characters each struggle with their preconceptions of the Muslim world, as well as their own agnosticism.
The different perspectives of these and other characters illustrate that the question of Iran having nuclear capability is not so cut-and-dried as it is portrayed in American politics. Author Madsen paints a picture of a people surrounded by US-led wars, and still recovering from British domination of the region. He explains the distrust that many of them feel, while never allowing the reader to forget Iranians are individuals and cannot be collectively painted with a broad brush of anti-Americanism. This novel is probably the first time many Western readers will learn about the tiny Christian minority, which has existed in Iran for over 1500 years.
Searching for Eden is primarily a political adventure novel, but it is rooted in a deep understanding of the culture and history of this region. The archaeological information as is well-researched as anything found in James Michener's The Source, and includes fascinating theories about where academics believe the historical Eden may have been, and why. This aspect of the plot helps the reader appreciate the present political situation in the context of thousands of years of history.
Perhaps what is most surprising about Searching for Eden is that it lays out this rich and intricate plot in a way that does not lose the reader in a sea of characters and subplots. The last few chapters seem a bit drawn out as they wrap up the loose ends, but this is not a book, which is intimidating or confusing to the casual reader. Yes, the ending is a bit slower than the pacing of the book calls for, but it is a minor flaw in this very satisfying book. Highly Recommended by Terence P Ward, Allbooks Review. www.allbookreviews.com
Title: Searching for Eden
Author: Keith Madsen
Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing
Searching for Eden
Searching for Eden
by Keith Madsen
Search Amazon for other books by or about Keith Madsen.
Reviewed by: Kelly Davis
I consider myself pretty traditional when it comes to reading books the old-fashioned way, but just having finished Searching for Eden by Keith Madsen in e-book format I may just have to leap into the new millennium. I loved being able to follow along with the story any time I found myself at a computer (which is pretty much all day long)! I'm not going to commit to buying a Kindle but a seed has been planted.
Appropriately, just as Eden's publishing format has made me rethink my reading preferences, Madsen's story has made me think outside the standard genre classification: I never thought the words "ecumenical" and "thriller" would ever go together but that is exactly what Madsen has done here and he has done it well.
Searching for Eden is a fast-paced thriller about widower Evan Jordan, a political science professor whose daughter Sarah adores the simplicity and purity of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. When Sarah dies of cancer at the tender age of 14, a devastated Evan meets Carmen, a newly-orphaned former prostitute the same age as his late daughter. Evan seeks to reclaim a fatherly connection in Carmen but he is wrongly accused of misconduct. To honor his daughter, Evan sets out to find the Garden of Eden. To find it, should he go to Iran? Iraq? Syria? In researching his plan of action he meets Dr. Jessica Santiago, a beautiful anthropologist who is still recovering from abuse. Jessica agrees to go along with Evan and Carmen in hopes of bringing a measure of justice for the women of Iran who are so severely repressed under the current Islamic regime. But for Jessica, will the end justify the means?
Once in Iran, things go very wrong very fast. Jessica is accused of spying on Iran's nuclear facilities and soon what began as a search for paradise ends with everyone running for their lives! Once in Iran, Madsen introduces us to a wonderful cast of characters including my favorite, Asfenah, a good Muslim woman who is jailed for killing her rapist but once set free by Jessica's delightful Iranian colleague BehnAm, they too are running for their lives. Asfenah finds herself at odds with finding justice and staying true to her faith. Asfenah "really did not consider herself to be a brave person, and yet her life seemed to keep thrusting her into situations which required bravery. Perhaps Allah should have made her a man if he were planning so many dangerous enterprises for her. Of course, one should not question what Allah does. Still..."
While Madsen is a Pastor, this novel is not really a Christian novel as much as it is an ecumenical one, giving respect to and framing viewpoints from all three Abrahamic faiths. Indeed at one point Evan amusedly ponders his situation: "A Jewish archaeologist, with Christian friends, who is going to help us rescue a Muslim and an Hispanic-American secularist by getting them across the border of countries that hate each other, and one of which remains engaged in a bloody civil war. Nothing to worry about with that plan."
Madsen does a splendid job of weaving tension, politics, romance, theology, and history into an excellent story, and if you are at all interested in any of these subjects, I recommend Searching for Eden highly!
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Reader Reviews for "Searching for Eden"
|Reviewed by Richard Bowers
|That is a very challanging topic to write about. Best of Luck to you.|