In this fourth installment of a series, a graduate student/amateur spy aids in an archaeologist’s risky quest to locate a religious site filled with valuable relics.
Travis Weld, who works for a secret government agency, has enlisted Chesney Barrett’s help in the past. He’s also extensively trained the grad student, who’s doing environmental research in the Louisiana Atchafalaya Basin. Her latest task is liberating archaeologist David Phillips from a leftist guerrilla organization in Mexico. She succeeds, also saving Dr. Tanadas, director of Mayan archaeological studies, in the process. But her work isn’t finished: David’s father, Jacob, wants Chesney to join his son in his newest archaeological trek. She can ensure Tanadas doesn’t take credit for the discovery while protecting David from potential treasure hunters and rebels. David is searching for God’s Domain, the legendary—and presumably relic-filled—dwelling site of Viracocha, god over all gods and the people in the Americas. In a search that takes them to Peru, David and Chesney will have to make alliances with dangerous individuals, including artifact smuggler Col. Montez. But unknown to anyone, awaiting them at the sacred site is something entirely unexpected, as a formidable guardian turns David’s hunt into a test of survival. As in the preceding novels in Gallant’s (Rob the Vatican, 2007, etc.) thriller series, Chesney is a vigorous protagonist; she’s unquestionably the muscle in David’s expedition. But while the rescue mission opens the story with searing action, the pace then slows down significantly, as David deciphers hieroglyphs and decodes maps. Still, the search is often riddled with tension; Chesney must constantly remind David to keep quiet about details of God’s Domain, with suspect, greedy men populating the narrative. The latter half takes a rather surprising turn as the group nears the religious site, but it also presents Chesney with a new, seemingly unbeatable challenge. Meanwhile, her attraction to the appealing David rivals her lingering feelings for the emotionally distant Travis, but unfortunately the story doesn’t fully explore the romantic quandary.
A worthy thriller starring a tireless and always-reliable protagonist.