Cussler and company (The Kingdom, 2011, etc.) send treasure hunters extraordinaire, Sam and Remi Fargo, onto the windy steppes of the ancient Hun empire searching for the tomb of the Scourge of God.
The Fargos are volunteering temporarily as excavators at a Paleo-Indian village site under shallow water off Grand Isle, La. The dive’s interrupted by a hasty call from famed German archaeologist, Albrecht Fischer. Fischer believes he’s unearthed a major find near Szeged, Hungary. The Fargos head off to Europe to help. Then, Fischer is kidnapped and taken to Szeged, only to be rescued by a Fargo-led amateur commando raid on a pharmaceutical complex owned by Arpad Bakor, a Hungarian who claims Attila as an ancestor. Bakor believes Fischer’s find may be the location of Attila’s legendary lost tomb. And so it goes, Sam and Remi, assisted by character-actor players who always appear at the right time, follow a series of Attila-supplied scavenger-hunt clues to the location of his triple-coffin burial site. The dialogue is sophisticated rom-com snappy, and there’s much mention of the right vintages and exotic gourmet dining and five-star hotels. Best of all are dozens of Wow! historical factoids about Attila and concurrent history. The settings are exotic: a vineyard south of Budapest; the confluence of the Po and Mincio rivers in Italy, the point where Attila turned away from Rome; then Châlons-en-Champagne, the furthermost western point of the Hun’s dominion; Transylvania; Kazakhstan, and finally, Rome’s Catacombs of Domitillia. There the story should end, but coming free with all the interesting Hun history is a multi-chapter shootout involving Hungarian, French and Russian bad guys, each of whom wanted a share of the tomb but will settle for revenge.
Even with a plot hole or two, a tacked-on narrative thread about a corporate treasure-hunting enterprise and a believability buy in—the Fargo’s bottomless money bucket—Cussler fans can expect more than a few hours of page-turning action.