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Boys' adventure tales echo throughout this novel within a novel, making light of its strained credibility and derring-do. We follow a television crew into the impregnable vaults of the Coffey Foundation in London, where the world's greatest set of colossal diamonds is stored. Suddenly the crew turns into thieves and a heist is in motion--and then the diamonds are gone! Thomas Kengle, the hotshot young president of the fantastically enormous Coffey fortune, goes out to visit the founder's daughter, Lady Catherine, who tells him the unknown story of how her father founded the Coffey fortune. Flashback then to the Sudan in 1898: Serving with Kitchener's army, Lt. Stephen Coffey of the class-ridden Tenth Westmoreland Lancers is not a gentleman born, nor independently wealthy, and so he can never rise as an officer. But his commanding officer has a plan to help him gain status. Perhaps Coffey can take a small force of four men, strike across the desert, and rescue a British missionary and his beautiful daughter from the dervishes who captured them ten years earlier. In disguise, Coffey's group penetrates the dervish settlement and rescues the prisoners. While doing so, the repressed Coffey falls in love with once-raped Victoria. Meanwhile, a bag of legendary rough diamonds has surfaced as the property of the dervishes' emir, who idiotically uses the diamonds for drilling. Coffey, Victoria and the crew manage to steal the diamonds but then are pursued across the desert by the savage dervishes, who delight in dismemberment and other bestial pleasures. Naturally, the diamonds get to London safely, one way or another--or do they? Rattling good fun but not the memorable novel Langley (Traverse of the Gods) has in him. One hopes for one step up in fantasy to break him from the griplock of adventure into big new territory as a writer of fantastic creations equal to She or King Solomon's Mines.

Pub Date: Dec. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Walker