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by Andy McDermott
Headline, November 2009
448 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0755354613

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Tomb Raider and collides messily. The book has all the subtlety of a brick in a sock, but in spite of, rather than because of, the deeply irritating main character, Nina Wilde, this still manages, much to my surprise, to be an entertaining read, but you do need to remember to leave your critical faculties at the door on the way in.

Archaeology student Macy Sharif discovers that the Hall of Records, deep beneath the Sphinx in Egypt, is about to be plundered by a religious cult just before its secret is revealed on live television. She only just escapes with her life and flees to America in the hope of finding someone to take her claims seriously. That someone turns out to be disgraced archaeologist, Nina Wilde.

Once the book moved beyond its opening chapters, I soon realised that this was part of yet another series, but there were enough background clues littering the text for this not to be a problem. It soon became obvious that Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS boyfriend, Eddie Chase, had lost their jobs with the International Heritage Agency after Nina’s claims to have found the Garden of Eden had been torn apart in the press. Nina is being shunned by fellow archaeologists and is down on her luck, while boyfriend Eddie is acting as a bodyguard for Hollywood star, Grant Thorn.

The book lurches from one action set-piece to another, much in the style of a big budget, special effects heavy film. A car chase in New York City serves as the main introduction to Wilde and Chase. The action is breathtakingly silly, and always hovers just on the edge of unbelievable, but it did give me quite a few laughs.

As ever, there is a sinister cult with a plan to take over the world, or rather to get impossibly rich by utilizing a rather unusual type of blackmail, all centering around the secret of eternal life, which naturally every self-respecting cult has to have access to.

One of the main action sequences sees Wilde and Chase, still in company with spoiled little rich girl, Macey, making their way through the bowels of a booby-trapped tomb, with crashing rocks, lakes of fire and other assorted perils. I keep expecting cameo appearances by both Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, who would have been entirely at home in this tale. Instead McDermott gives the reader Eddie Chase, who is an amusingly inventive character, with a penchant for wrecking cars and making things go bang in increasingly spectacular fashion. I found Wilde far harder to warm to, but by the end I was actually more tolerant of her than I was at the start, which might mean my brain had started to give up an unequal struggle and was simply sinking under the weight of increasingly adrenaline-fueled action sequences.

So if you’re happy to have your disbelief suspended by a very thin thread, possibly dangling from a helicopter, then this book will provide a few hours of undeniably mindless entertainment.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, February 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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