Summary: Harry Blake, antique map dealer from Lincoln, is called upon by a local member of the landed gentry to decipher an Elizabeth journal bequeathed to him by a long-lost Jamaican relative. When Sir Toby shows up dead and thugs have been chasing Harry around Oxford, he teams up with Sir Toby’s feisty daughter and equally vivacious marine historian Zola Khan, along with Dalton, a mysterious man of indeterminate ethnicity, education and employment, to finish deciphering the journal and follow where it leads them.
This compares very favourably to a large number of this style of book which I read often, because:
a) the protagonist is an academic with a bit of army background, not an ex-SEAL now working for CIA/FBI, who ends up in a violent treasure hunt through his professional engagement rather than because he went looking for it
b) said protagonist is British (soooooooo many of these stories are US-based, and while I have no objection to that, it’s nice to have a change!)
c) there is only one flight made at short notice, most of the rest of the travel is localised and thus plausible.
d) it’s half the length of the genre standard so the plot is generally tighter.
e) 19-year-old heiresses are cool.
It fails on the same grounds that many do:
a) Zola Khan, the marine historian with the amazing classic car? Seriously?
b) Everyone seems to have a lot of fight training. I don’t know any particularly combative academics apart from a rower or two.
Lots of fun, but I’d rather read a Clive Cussler. If someone convinces Cussler to write a UK-based thriller, I’ll buy it in hardback on the first day.