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A fast-moving archaeological thriller finds its intrepid hero on a less-than-mysterious quest to uncover the lost city of Atlantis.

During the first 25 pages of Tartessus Was Atlantis, the main characters–such stock figures as a square-jawed federal agent, a buxom blonde, a maverick archaeologist and his son–down somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 cups of coffee. Albertson may have been pumping caffeine at a similar pace. The jittery novel races at such a hasty pace, it more closely resembles an outline for the book than a fully conceived work. Gallant archeologist H.P. Borchad is at the center of this thriller, suffering a series of vexing setbacks on his hunt for the real Atlantis. Along the way, he’s aided by a federal agent named John, a suave, oversexed superman who hops out of trouble as frequently as he hops into bed. Numerous bestsellers have proven that a little bit of historical background can go a long way toward giving a book at least the appearance of complexity and depth. Remember The Da Vinci Code? Albertson tries to turn a similar trick here, but finds himself so enamored of his own research that it often threatens to, and sometimes does, overtake the narrative itself. The book opens with a rambling, occasionally nonsensical prologue–referred to by the author as a “postulation”–in which he makes the argument that Plato’s fictional city of Atlantis was, in fact, the ancient island settlement of Tartessus. Had Albertson subtly wove this contrarian thesis into the flow of his story all would have been well. However, by laying it out in a jargon-rich, pseudo-academic preface–and embedding it in his title–Albertson throws the book off kilter. It would be as if Dan Brown had called his novel Jesus Had a Wife–no thrills, all exposition.

Hums along at a breakneck pace but loses readers along the way.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-595-48452-2
Program: Kirkus Indie
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NonfictionMEET ME IN ATLANTIS by Mark Adams
by Mark Adams