The fifth novel from the much acclaimed Spanish literary magician Arturo Pérez-Reverte, The Nautical Chart
, is (the subtitle tells us) "a novel of adventure", and this vivid and colourful tale of lost treasure, love and betrayal on the high seas is a work that conjures the shade of past masters of nautical adventure. Conrad, Melville and Stevenson are in this heady brew, but not one of those masters ever produced something quite as rich and strange as Pérez-Reverte's utterly individual narrative--although it certainly won't be to every taste.
A beautiful woman named Tánger Soto is at the centre of The Nautical Chart. Nearly 230 years after it went to the bottom, Tánger has uncovered the location of a brigantine called the Dei Gloria, a significant ship of the Jesuit brethren's fleet sunk by pirates in the 17th century. Working for the Naval Museum in Madrid, she keeps her discovery clandestine until she is able to enlist the aid of the laconic seaman Manuel Coy at a maritime auction in Barcelona. He is persuaded to join her on a wild treasure hunt off the southern coast of Spain, fully aware that this is much more than a simple search-and-recover mission, and that Tánger is as full of secrets as the sunken vessel they are tracking down. Coy is a suspended sailor with nothing to do, a mariner without a ship. Tánger utilises her singular manipulative skills with men and her expertise with documents, atlases, and nautical maps to chart the search for the lost treasure. Coy is bewitched by his fiercely determined companion, and before long finds himself falling in love. Along with El Piloto, the canny old man of the sea whose sailboat they chart, they head into perilous seas that promise fortune--or death.
The plotting of this mélange of mystery, love and betrayal is an ever-surprising crossbreed between the adventure tale and the literary novel, constantly (and delightfully) wrong-footing the reader at every turn. Pérez-Reverte utilises his experience as a television journalist who has reported on some of the world's most dangerous crises to ensure that the reader's pulse is often racing, but (as in such earlier novels as The Seville Communion and The Fencing Master it's his powerfully evocative prose that commands our attention. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A classic of its genre, equal to the best of Eric Ambler and Patrick O'Brian - and, beyond genre, not far below the levels and depths plumbed by Melville and Conrad themselves... In a virtually perfect fusion of absorbing action and precise, intricate characterisation, Perez-Reverte magically sustains the tension and suspense over a span of almost 500 pages' Kirkus Reviews