Will Adams - The Sacred Spoils
"The fast-paced and exciting denouement never slackens as the plot twists and turns..."
Cesco Rossi is a conman with a secret. He is on the run from some Nazi thugs, and lives on his wits and his ability to spin a good story (one of which is that he is an archaeologist). While in Calabria in Southern Italy, he meets American historian Carmen Nero, who is looking for the tomb of Alaric, 4th to 5th century King of the Visigoths, and the treasures he looted when he sacked Rome. Meanwhile, Zara Gold, an Israeli professor, is in Calabria as well, seeking the fabled Menorah, the seven-armed candelabrum kept in the Temple of Jerusalem until it mysteriously disappeared.
Alaric was supposedly buried in a tomb, along with fabulous riches, built into the bed of the Busento River in Cosenza, which was diverted for the purpose. Once the tomb was completed, the waters were once more allowed to flow, and the Roman slaves who built the tomb killed so that its secret location might remain a secret. To compound matters further, Cesco and Carmen also come up against members of the 'Ndrangheta, Calabria's Mafia-type crime syndicate. It's at this point that Cesco's tragic secret is revealed, and it puts him in a totally different light. Gradually, the various factions get closer to discovering the location of the tomb and its treasures.
This is the first in a series of historical and archaeological thrillers featuring Rossi and Nero. It is multi-layered and dense, with the action being relentless. To begin with, all the plot threads are seemingly unconnected. But gradually they come together to make a fast-paced thriller that pulses with action. Perhaps some of the twists and turns are hard to follow, but are never any less than exciting.
The plotting is immaculate, and the characters are well-drawn, with their flaws being as important as their good points. The relationship between Rossi and Nero crackles with sexual tension, even when they are estranged, and no doubt this tension will continue in the future books. This is a great read if you like unrelenting action, unexpected plot twists and dangerous situations which appear impossible to get out of. The fast-paced and exciting denouement never slackens as the plot twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing.
Reviewed by: J.G.