In this prequel to Cunningham’s (Maroon Rising, 2015, etc.) adventure series, a treasure hunter’s quick rise to fame and wealth takes a nose dive, due to circumstances involving deceit and murder.
By 2006, Buck Reilly’s treasure-hunting company, e-Antiquity, which he co-founded and owns with Jack Dodson, has enjoyed its share of success. But when Buck finds a Serpent King’s tomb, filled with numerous artifacts, in the former Mayan city of El Mirador, it causes his company’s stock to skyrocket. This is accompanied by lavish media attention, primarily aimed at Buck, in part due to his relationship with supermodel Heather Drake. Their honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands, however, is ruined when Buck ends up wrongfully jailed for murder. He narrowly avoids a conviction, but the damage, it seems, is done. The company’s stock drops, and the public revels in reports that Buck’s latest archaeological sites are turning up nothing. This puts a strain on both his marriage and his relationship with Jack, who’s handling the company’s financial side. Soon, Interpol and the FBI are knocking on e-Antiquity’s doors, accusing Buck of all sorts of other crimes. Cunningham’s zigzagging plot is invigorating, as Buck faces a range of threats, from potential arrest to an estranged wife. A few of the plot turns are predictable, even for readers who may be new to the series, but most prove to be genuinely surprising. The author’s confident narrative voice adds weight to the narrative, whether the mood is light (Buck and Heather “making a dedicated effort to flatten out the lumpy mattress”) or baleful (“The bright light of reality made me wince,” notes Buck as he faces possible charges). Many secondary characters are multilayered, as well, such as the shrewd, professional research partner Scarlet Roberson and Buck’s underhanded, meticulous betrayer.
A lively thriller with plenty of unexpected developments.