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by James Twining
HarperCollins, March 2006
464 pages
ISBN: 0007190166

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Three vicious robberies, with murder, cause officials to call in Tom Kirk, ex-CIA agent, ex-art thief, and his partner Archie Connolly, a former fence, to help find out what happened.

The arm of an Auschwitz survivor is severed while he is still alive in a hospital in London. The doctor and nurse who were watching on the CCTV are murdered and the tape taken, along with the arm.

Meanwhile, at the NSA museum in Washington, a guard is brutally hanged from piano wire and an Enigma machine is stolen.

Then, in the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, a painting by Karel Bellak is stolen, and children's holocaust art is destroyed. Bellak is a minor amateur painter whose work is usually not much sought after.

The Rabbi asks Tom Kirk to investigate and try to find who would desecrate a holocaust remembrance exhibit. When he finds the painting, the severed left arm is also found with it. The juxtaposition is puzzling, but Kirk's young assistant, Dominique de Lecourt, an inveterate puzzle solver, figures out the arm contains a code.

As they follow the clues, they learn that Cassius is involved. Tom had learned recently that Cassius, the criminal master was the man that the young Tom called Uncle Harry. The man that never forgot a promise to the young boy, or a birthday. The man that was always there when Tom needed him, unlike Kirk's father. When they learn that Cassius is involved, there is no stopping Archie and Tom.

At the end of the war, a train of 29 cars, loaded with treasures from Hungary, was hidden by a group of diehard SS soldiers. Twenty-seven of the cars have been found, but it is thought that the two remaining cars hold a secret treasure that is worth more than any that has already been recovered.

Tom and Archie search Europe for the treasure, and the road to finding the lost railroad cars is an exciting one. Twining introduces interesting new characters only to kill them off eventually, but Tom and Archie and Harry Renwick are always there.

Twining is among the best of the thriller writers around. He seems to be taking on the crown that Clive Cussler is slowly abdicating, if THE DOUBLE EAGLE and THE BLACK SUN are indications of his abilities. Oh, by the way, if you want to find out the meaning of the title, you'll have to read the book.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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