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by James Twining
HarperCollins, February 2005
432 pages
ISBN: 000719014X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Tom Kirk is a young man with a secret. On the face of it he runs an antiques business in London. But behind this facade he's a top international art thief. So when there's an audacious break-in at Fort Knox and some rare coins are stolen, he is top of the FBI's wanted list.

Leading the hunt for the thief is Jennifer Browne, an FBI agent with a huge and guilty secret and who sees this job as her last chance to redeem her fading career.

Tied in with all these shenanigans is the mystery surrounding the murder of a priest in Paris. His mutilated body is dumped in the Seine, but he manages to leave a bizarre clue to help the investigators.

Oh, and there's the obligatory Mr Big lurking in the shadows in the form of the sinister Cassius.

THE DOUBLE EAGLE is a debut thriller for British writer James Twining, a young entrepreneur-turned-author. And it's one worth reading, as Twining keeps his plotlines running smoothly. There's the usual thriller jet-setting, as Tom and Jennifer hurtle between the US, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Istanbul. And I definitely didn't see the Cassius plot twist coming.

I admit to having a weakness for this sort of 'if it's Sunday it must be Munich' sort of thriller. In this instance the European settings are the more compelling, and I suspect an American reader might spot problems with the American-speak! And, as is often the problem with thrillers, the characterisation's a bit on the brisk side. Twining is apparently at work on a sequel, so it will be interesting to see if there's any fleshing out of the cast.

I'm told by our esteemed publisher Barbara Franchi that there's a glaring error in the book when it comes to the handling of the rare Double Eagle coins. So if you happen to be an expert it that area, grit your teeth as you read.

So THE DOUBLE EAGLE is a more than promising debut. It drags a bit in places, as if Twining has mastered the plotting but can't quite capture the atmosphere and excitement, but I'd certainly like to see a sequel.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, January 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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