chest containing Mussolini's gold and jewels almost becomes a coffin for those engaged in retrieving it from the shaft in a mine where some ""foreign region"" fighters buried it at the end of the war. Two of them live to remember: Walker, now on the bottle; and Coertze whom he implies had killed off all the other witnesses. Peter Halloran, a boat designer and boat builder in Cape Town, to whom Walker tells the incident, is ready for the attempt to salvage the treasure after his own life has been scuttled by the death of his wife. With Walker and Coertze they sail through the Mediterranean, are followed by a scoundrel Metcalfe to whom Walker talked too much, and then Francesca, a Contessa, all anxious to cut in on the take. Thieves fall out and fall to -- but finally they retrieve the ingots and melt them down into the keel, head off into rough seas and even rougher trouble aboard... A newcomer with a flair for adventure and some care for believability makes preemptive entry into the Hammond Innes field, and his story of fools' gold provides some 14 carat excitement.