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Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Gazelle in the Shadows is a historical thriller by Michelle Peach. The novel takes place in Syria and is largely based on her real life experiences.
Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.”
Synopsis –
In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth, a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University, travels to Damascus to immerse herself in the Syrian language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always as they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and a murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.
From the Prologue –
When I traveled to Syria as a Durham student in 1992, I knew very little about the country. From the onset, I was overwhelmed by their welcome. But the longer I stayed in Damascus and especially when I started working for Dr. Andrew Rathmell, as his Arabic translator and assistant researcher, the more I understood of Syria’s tumultuous and violent history. At the time, Hafez al-Assad, the President of Syria since 1971, was at the height of his autocratic power and the country was in a state of relative calm since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. His vast security apparatus was evident on every street corner whether army, police or civilian informants. My travel guide dedicated an entire page to the various types of mukhabarat, secret police, present in the country but also reassuringly wrote that Syria was a “safe” country for travelers. Not so obvious was the fear, paranoia and suppression which his people lived under…

Praise for Michelle Peach’s Gazelle in the Shadows:
“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.” -Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Peach integrates myriad plot developments into her exciting and ambitious work … The central conceit is both original and compelling.” -BookLife Prize
“Michelle Peach brings Syrian culture and cityscapes to life with her descriptions and characters… the author is able to accurately capture a specific moment in Middle Eastern history that still has ramifications on modern-day Syrians. For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.” -Red City Review
“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read.” – Dr Andrew Rathmell, Author of Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle For Syria 1949 -1961
Gazelle in the Shadows is a novel filled with intensity. My favorite part of this novel is the main character, Elizabeth, who is smart, kind and loyal to the people around her… As a reader, you like her and empathize with her, but at other times you want to tell her to rethink her decisions. She is young, however, and making mistakes is what causes her to learn more about herself and who she is… Michelle Peach’s writing is good; I especially like the dialogue and descriptions of what life was like in Syria. Her descriptions are smooth and beautiful;  I was impressed with how much I learned about the history of Syria and the Middle East… I suggest this book to anyone who is interested in the different countries of the Middle East, or wants to read a quick coming of age story. This book teaches you that the most important things in life are the things you find within yourself.” – Katherine’s Book Reviews
“Gazelle in the Shadows quite literally had me on the edge of my seat, from beginning to the very end. Michelle’s writing left me wanting to find out more after every chapter and I couldn’t help but read on… Gazelle in the Shadows is a very poignant and thought-provoking story that keep’s you gripped to the very end.” – 5 Stars, Marie’s Book Boutique

About the Author:
Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.” Gazelle in the Shadows is set to be released in September 2018, published by IngramSpark.
Michelle lives in Atlanta, GA. She is a stay-at-home mom, married with three children. Readers can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://MichellePeach.com/