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An unattached London lawyer and company follow a strange map to a dark secret.

After his grandfather died, David Martinez was finally as alone as he’d felt his entire life. He had no other family and knew nothing about his roots. But soon after the funeral, he receives some shocking news: His seemingly poor grandfather has left him $2 million and a strange map, on the condition that he travel to Basque Country to meet with a man named Jose Garovillo. After arriving, his attempts to locate Garovillo in a bar lead to a near-fatal encounter with an ETA terrorist named Miguel, but he is saved at the last minute by Amy Myerson, an attractive teacher who briefly dated Miguel before realizing he was a violent psychopath. Amy, a friend of Garovillo (who happens to be Miguel’s father), arranges a meeting, where Garovillo informs David that David’s grandfather was a Basque. He advises David to forget about the map, because… But before he can reveal more, Miguel arrives and begins to chase David and Amy all around Basque Country and beyond, as they ignore the old man’s advice and follow the map. Meanwhile, Simon Quinn, a London-based freelance journalist, covers a series of murders that seem to have something to do with the Cagots, a long-persecuted and nearly extinct ethnic minority from Basque Country. His investigation puts him in contact with David and Amy, and together, facing danger at every turn, they must uncover a centuries-old and well-protected secret, the exposure of which could really muck things up for racial and ethnic harmony worldwide. In his debut novel, The Genesis Secret (2009), Knox (whose real name is Sean Thomas) crafted a few tensely atmospheric and absorbing opening chapters before a series of transparent advance-the-plot-at-all-costs coincidences irreparably sunk the narrative. The well-done atmospherics appear here (although in shorter patches, and less well-done), but so too do the lame shortcuts. Worse, the characters—especially David—are paper-thin, and the climax features a plot twist that most readers will have seen coming from way, way off.

Weak and unpersuasive.

Pub Date: May 10th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02191-8
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2010


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