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Fiend's Gold (William Reyner) Paperback – 31 Oct 2013
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Granny and William learned that a rumor lasting two hundred years said that Jeremiah Fiend and his seven sons had raided an American boat and stolen ten tons of gold. Thereafter, the seven sons died and Jeremiah hid the gold somewhere on the island. Several different owners had owned the island during those two hundred years and several of them died mysteriously as if Jeremiah haunted the island, protecting his gold. Bill talked his young friends, Pete, Dee, Henny and Alic, a girl, to join him at his expense on the island while they searched for the gold, as every owner before them had done.
On the island stood a large house, four cottages, a boathouse with boat, a nice beach and a beacon on the end of the island. While Granny, Bill and his friends took charge of the island and its contents, they were joined by a woman named Addy who claimed to be Edgar's old girlfriend. The mystery ensued as people died seemingly accidental deaths, boats disappeared and Granny and Bill, who wanted to be a P.I. attempted to solve the crimes and locate the gold, if there actually was such.
The novel is well written, laid out in such a manner that the reader can remember all of the loose ends, which finishes in naturally a surprise twist. I recommend it to readers of mystery thrillers.
Fiend's Gold is a fast-paced, exciting mystery/thriller that never falters or drags on,introducing new people and events as they are needed, fairly often stretching the limits of plausibility, but never so much as to be nonsensical. The characters, especially Bill Reyner and his grandmother, are reasonably well developed, and while some of Bill's friends, particularly Dee, are occasionally annoying, and Henny remains an unsolved mystery unto himself, they are a believable group of college-age folks. Bill's grandmother may be a bit of an officious caricature, but I found her wisdom and equanimity very appealing. When everyone else was falling apart, Gran could be relied on to keep things on a more or less even keel. Since I am even older than her sixty-two years, that may help explain why I liked her so much.
The protagonist, Bill, may not be the sharpest tack in the box, but he's the sort of goodhearted, self-effacing guy most readers would like to see do well. The fact that he has nothing in common with usual action heroes, often deferring to his grandmother's judgment, makes him easy to identify with and that much more likeable.
The author writes with skill, but he could use the services of an alert but not too aggressive editor. Johnson sometimes repeats information he's given us just a few pages back as if it were entirely new. He also occasionally contradicts himself, though never with regard to anything of real importance. I imagine that he puts his working manuscript down from time to time, and then picks it up without checking to see just where he left off.
You don't have to buy Fiend's Gold's sort of outlandish premise to enjoy the novel, and it's easy to see that some of the characters would be quick to latch onto the thrilling prospect of untold riches just waiting to be found. So just relax and have a good time with this nifty little novel.