Book clubs are unfortunately rare here, so I often have very big ears when people starts to tell about books, they have been reading. "The 8" by Katherine Neville is one of those books - and it was a co-worker telling another co-worker about the book, that caught my attention.
Think Dan Brown's books with Robert Langdon - only that this book were written 1988 - where past events must be understood to unreavel a secret/secrets in the now (in this case 1972) and you will know the genre of this book. I have grown up with a chess board - my dad and my brother used to play chess a lot - so I know the basic rules of the game. Not a requirement to get the most of this book, but it certainly helped lure me into reading this book :o)
A computer expert, Catherine Velis, is suddenly involved with the search for pieces belonging to a Charlemagne chessboard set that have historical strings to the past involving Charlemagne, a French abbey, the French Revolution, a Russian zarina, Napoleon de Bonaparte and many more. She is sent to Algeria by her employer - nothing is what it seems to be and who can she trust in this country far away from home.
You can almost feel the sand in your shoes, being too hot due to the burning sun, smell the spices of the local food..... Katherine Neville's way of describing the scenery takes you deep into the book, as where you standing next to Catherine and experiencing the same events as her. That is a true gift and I can not wait to start reding the sequeal that was not published until 20 years later.