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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with William Doonan, author of American Caliphate

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by William Doonan.

About William:

William Doonan is an archaeologist and professor of anthropology in Sacramento, CA.  He has spent many years conducting excavations in Central and South America.  He is also a veteran cruise ship lecturer, traveling the world and speaking on topics as diverse as the Trojan War, piracy in the Adriatic, and the peopling of the Americas. 

Doonan is also the author of three mystery novels.  Grave Passage and Mediterranean Grave  recount the adventures of an octogenarian detective who solves crimes on cruise ships.  His archaeological mystery American Caliphate was released by Dark Oak Mysteries in April 2012.

Doonan lives in Sacramento with his wife and two sons.  He blogs about undead conquistador mummies at


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, William!

William has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!

Archaeology, Cold Cases, and Mystery Fiction
By William Doonan

Thanks for this opportunity to visit with your readers, Darlene.  By way of introduction, I’m an archaeologist, a professor in Sacramento, California, and I’m also a mystery writer.  My archaeological mystery American Caliphate was released in April by Oak Tree Press, and I’ve received a lot of questions from students and readers about the intersection of archaeology and mystery fiction, so I wanted to address that here.

American Caliphate is set on the north coast of Peru, where a team of archaeologists are investigating an ancient pyramid complex.  Coincidentally, I spent five summers on that very same north coast investigating an ancient pyramid complex.  And I knew, the first day I set foot on that site, that I was going to write about it.

The culture that built the pyramids is called Moche.  They were a warrior culture, profoundly violent, yet at the same time, their pottery betrays an unexpected sensuality.  And because it nearly never rains on the north coast, the archaeological preservation is incredible.  We have intact skeletons, looted burials by the thousands, and mummies still buried in their tombs, well, at least until we came along.

Archaeologists are the detectives of prehistory.  We investigate the past, and in the case of the Moche, our investigations often enough turned up evidence of violent crimes.  One day we were excavating a platform off the back of one of the pyramids, and we came across a skeleton lying partly under a wall.

So we carefully excavated the skeleton, even found one leg directly under that wall.

Then we brought him to the lab and started running some diagnostics. 

He was a young man in his mid- to late twenties with perfect teeth.  A noble, he had been slashed across the back with a sword, the marks still vivid on his ribs.

The blow drove him over a ledge.  He fell perhaps twenty feet, and presumably died from the fall.  Immediately thereafter, for reasons not yet understood, an adobe wall was built over him.

Are we going to solve the case?  Will the killer be brought to justice?  I doubt it.  This murder was committed more than 1300 years ago.  No, our killer got away with it.  The tools that archaeologists can bring to bear on the violence of antiquity are blunt.  There’s only so much we can resolve.

But the tools that a mystery writer can bring to bear on the violence of antiquity are robust.  I’m never going to forget that man who got smacked with a sword, then buried under a wall.  He’ll turn up in my stories here and there.  That’s basically how I built my story for American Caliphate, by letting the clues lead me to a place the scientist part of me couldn’t answer, but the writer part of me could run with. 
Thanks so much for joining us today, William!

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of William's latest archaeological mystery, American Caliphate.

Archaeologists Jila Wells and Ben Juarez are not thrilled at the prospect of returning to Peru; the ambush that nearly cost Jila her life still haunts her. But the ruined pyramids at Santiago de Paz hide an important document that would shock the Islamic world. Professor Sandy Beckham is assembling a distinguished team to dig quickly through the pyramid complex, following clues found in the diary of a wealthy Muslim woman who lived in Spain five centuries ago.

In the diary are details of an illegal expedition to Spanish Peru in three well-armed ships. Convinced that Spain was forever lost to Islam, Diego Ibanez intended to bring the word of Allah to the pagan Americans. Landing on Peru’s north coast, he learned that the fires of the Inquisition burned even hotter there than they did in Spain.

As the archaeologists brace for the ravaging storms of El NiƱo, Jila and Ben hurry to complete their excavations. But they’re not the only ones interested in this project. Other forces are determined that the document remain hidden. Should it be discovered, a challenge could be made under Islamic testamentary law to the throne of Saudi Arabia. And the House of Saud has no interest in sharing power with an American caliphate that might now awaken from a five hundred year slumber.

Buy Links:
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To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide. The contest will close at 12:01 AM EST on July 28, 2012.


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