In Neissa’s (Dictatorship, 2008, etc.) novel, a researcher makes a startling discovery that leads him on an exciting South American treasure hunt.
In 1533, Inca emperor Atahualpa is being held hostage by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, and he spends most of one night writing a message for his field commander, Ruminahui. In it, he instructs him to hide the empire’s gold, which is currently being transported through the desert on 11,000 llamas and mules. Soon after, the Incan treasure seemingly vanishes. In the present day, American professor Grant Cole is doing some research in Spain’s archives in Seville when he stumbles upon a letter that could help uncover the gold’s whereabouts. But as he leaves the archives, he’s stabbed by a mysterious stranger, and he later travels to London to recover. A run-in with people posing as FBI agents in Heathrow Airport makes him flee for his life, which leads to a chance meeting with the actress Halston von Thiakopolous. She decides to accompany Cole on his treasure hunt; she also wants to assist Cardinal Merloni of the Vatican in finding the Incan treasure before it falls into the wrong hands. Pretty soon, there’s a race between the corrupt Cardinal Rafael Espinoza, a criminal known as Moncada, the CIA, and a mysterious injured man named Lucas San Lorenzo to find the gold in Ecuador. Neissa makes sure that tensions run high throughout this page-turning novel; for example, he sets the climax in the darkness of a cavern that’s not only inside an active volcano, but also full of poisonous gas. That said, with so many important institutions and their envoys after the treasure, it can be difficult for readers to keep them all straight. However, the author’s doctorate in Hispanic studies adds credibility to the story; for example, at one point, there’s a list of books related to the Incas and their conquests that includes real-life texts, and Cole’s skills at translating 16th-century Spanish and Quechuan, showcased in the narrative, makes him indispensable in the search for the gold.
A gripping adventure story and a delightful read, particularly for amateur treasure hunters.