True Raiders is The Lost City of Z meets The Da Vinci Code, from critically acclaimed author Brad Ricca.
This book tells the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called “most beautiful woman in the world,” headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Like a real-life version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this incredible story of adventure and mystery has almost been completely forgotten today.
In 1908, Monty is approached by a strange Finnish scholar named Valter Juvelius who claims to have discovered a secret code in the Bible that reveals the location of the Ark. Monty assembles a ragtag group of blueblood adventurers, a renowned psychic, and a Franciscan father, to engage in a secret excavation just outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
Using recently uncovered records from the original expedition and several newly translated sources, True Raiders is the first retelling of this group’s adventures– in the space between fact and faith, science and romance.
Ricca follows up Olive the Lionheart with another cinematic history of a European aristocrat's adventures in distant lands. In 1909, Montague "Monty" Parker, an English nobleman and veteran of the Second Boer War, led an expedition to Palestine in search of the Ark of the Covenant. He was hired by businessmen who believed that a Finnish scholar had discovered a cipher in the Old Testament that, when decoded, provided a map to where the Ark was hidden in a network of subterranean tunnels near Jerusalem. Following the scholar's map and the findings of an earlier British explorer, Charles Warren, Parker and his team of amateur archaeologists excavated Hezekiah's Tunnel, believed to have been built in the 8th century BCE to provide Jerusalem with water during a siege by the king of Assyria. Ricca details the history of biblical sites including Gihon Spring, also known as the Virgin's Fountain, where Mary was believed to have washed Jesus's swaddling clothes, as well as a strike by local laborers, the race to beat a rival expedition funded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and allegations that Parker stole antiquities from the Mosque of Omar. Parker's rumored romance with Ava Astor, the estranged wife of John Jacob Astor, provides a touch of glamour. Archaeology buffs will be enthralled.