In Cone’s (Dead Ringer, 2012) novel, a wheelchair-bound heiress launches an investigation into an ancient manuscript, only to discover that the Tower of London’s Jewel House may hold the key to healing her.
Orphaned as a child in a car accident that took away the use of her legs, Mattie Renfro comes of age at Bleeker House, a home for indigent and disabled women. One day, she learns that one of her friends won the lottery and, upon her death, left Mattie a substantial fortune. Now free to do as she pleases, Mattie enlists a gifted Jewish studies student, Selma Bachman, to accompany her to Israel and examine a rare manuscript that she thinks may hold the key to curing her. Along the way, they discover another artifact that may have miraculous healing powers: the Saint Edwards Sapphire in the Tower of London’s Jewel House. Mattie convinces her lover, Jack Pearce, a military man-turned-chef, to steal the gem, but their actions also affect the life of London Police Superintendent Amal Stark, who’s falsely accused of the theft. Cone’s novel tries to be a few too many things at once: it starts out as a depressing social justice piece, then transforms into an inspiring rags-to-riches story before settling into an antiquities mystery straight out of a Dan Brown novel. These shifts in tone are jarring and may initially frustrate readers. However, once the story abandons the bleak atmosphere of Bleeker House and dives into the main storyline of Mattie’s quest to walk again, it picks up steam. The sapphire heist is a cinematic standout. However, readers must be willing to suspend their disbelief to accept how it plays out. Mattie and Selma are both a bit too perfect when it comes to their beauty, talents, and all-around goodness, but tough-talking Amal and her fight against injustice provide a healthy dose of fire and spice to what could otherwise have been a syrupy story.
An often entertaining mystery, but one packed with too much plot.