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by Andy McDermott
Headline, July 2010
512 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0755354648

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Archaeologist Nina Wilde, now the Director of the International Heritage Agency, has married ex-SAS boyfriend, Eddie Chase and they're both getting that bit older, with Eddie suffering the after effects of experiencing too many loud bangs at close quarters. An exhibition to celebrate the treasures of Atlantis is on tour through the United States and, at a celebrity opening in San Francisco, a daring gang of thieves who have recently managed to steal Michaelangelo's statue of David from a museum in Florence, strike again, this time targeting the mysterious Talonor Codex, and account of the travels of an Atlantean explorer. The codex is believed to hold the secret of the whereabouts of the Vault of Shiva and its legendary contents, the Siva-Vedas, the chronicles of the ancient Hindu god of destruction.

Nina and Eddie aren't willing to give up either Codex without a fight, and the resulting chase through the streets of San Francisco is the first of a series of increasingly frenetic action sequences interspersed throughout the book. The action lurches from the United States to India when Nina is kidnapped by the villain of the piece, who is determined to redeem the world through the destruction of the modern age no surprise there, then. The book then careers on to the Himalayas as the race to find the fabled vault begins in earnest.

This is only the second book I've read in this series this is now the sixth so it's difficult to say how this compares with the rest, although some reviews I've seen seem to think it's time McDermott gave these two characters a rest. But, after only two books, I haven't quite reached that stage yet. McDermott's main strength lies in his ability to write decent action scenes. They have a film-like quality as they unfold and it's remarkably easy to visualize the settings as they flash past at breakneck often quite literally speed. Yes, they're over the top and borderline unbelievable, but McDermott is one of the only authors I've ever felt like comparing reasonably favourably with Peter O'Donnell, although neither Nina nor Eddie can hold a candle to the late, great Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. The action scenes are entertaining and inventive, but I suspect that, unlike O'Donnell, we won't see McDermott actually killing either of his creations off, so whether he can manage to retain any dramatic tension in future romps remains to be seen.

And there will definitely be a future outing for these two. The ending makes that quite clear.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, September 2010

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