Richard Ben Sapir passed away several years ago, leaving a legacy of exceptionally engrossing novels. Among these was The Quest, first published in 1987 and currently being reprised for today’s reader. It is still a novel that grabs the reader and carries him or her into a story that is unusual, exciting, and definitely informative about the world of precious stones.
Queen Elizabeth I commissioned the construction of a Saltcellar, which was completed while the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by the English fleet changing the makeup of world powers. Spain lost its place as the master of the seas while England began several centuries of eminence on the oceans of the world. A Saltcellar was a decorative piece designed to hold the salt on dining tables. In many cases it was built incorporating precious stones making it an item too valuable to actually be used for the containment and sprinkling of salt.
Elizabeth’s Saltcellar was hidden by her in a safe place, and not seen for centuries. The action of the book opens when a man attempts to sell it in New York and is killed in the process. His daughter, Claire Andrews. travels to New York from her home in the midwest and finds herself in a conspiracy beginning with Elizabeth I and traveling to present day New York. She consults with detective Artie Modelstein of the New York police Frauds/Jewels squad and the two form a mutual attraction leading to love.
Claire researches the Saltcellar and learns a great deal about the world of rubies, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones in the process. Ben Sapir obviously did a great deal of research in this area and imparts this knowledge through Claire to the reader. It is, by itself, a fascinating topic described in an interesting manner by the author.
The question of how the Saltcellar was taken from England and ends up in the collection of a man from the United States midwest, and what the piece really covers are skillfully woven into a very unusual plot. Certainly, an all nighter for the reader and the definite prelude to looking for additional works by Ben Sapir either republished or found at a bookstore or library.
It is newly available as an ebook.
10/15 Paul Lane
THE QUEST by Richard Ben Sapir. Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (October 13, 2015) ASIN: B0141UPCRU. 404p.