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A Midas with a silver touch
on 25 August 2011
OK, this is not as good as Andy McDemott and, despite the "A heart thumping ride...One not to be missed" glaring across the bottom of the pb jacket by Steve Berry, is nowhere near that author's adventures of Cotton Malone. A few years back, Dan Brown kickstarted the new vogue of "ancient-mystery-meets-action-hero-with-brainy-sidekick" and the glut of these types of novels liberally festooning airport bookshops is quite remarkable. That said, that is precisely what they are for. Novels to read on a plane, train, beach etc. - wherever you get a spare couple of hours to waste that might otherwise be spent in front of like-minded banal TV.
Of course, the glut has meant it is now possible to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. The likes of Berry, Reilly, McDermott rise to the top of the genre by managing to combine Brown and Cussler into formulas with one-dimensional yet likeable characters, a hint of mystery with the multitude of myths and legends out there - and there are many to draw on, the usual intellectual puzzles that no one has figured out in thousands of years that our heroes can do in days, and the inevitable James Bond-esque villain who suffers from an inability to actually kill the hero without resorting to some spectacular and dastardly means of termination that our hero escapes from by the skin of his or her teeth.
Enjoyable hokum, to be honest, and it has its place on a Kindle. So, whilst in that airport once again, I saw the author of "Noah's Ark" had done a sequel. Tyler Locke - engineer, rich entrepreneur, ex-army etc. (much too like Cotton Malone, Scarecrow or Eddie for my liking) is forced by the evil Jordan Orr to defuse a bomb using Archimedes' geolabe. Inevitably a beautiful classics graduate - one Stacy Benedict (Nina Wilde anyone?) - is forced into helping him, lest their respective father and sister get murdered. The evil Orr has his female compatriot - Gia Cavano, a pair who hate each other but linked by an adventure as children in Naples years ago when they discovered the lost tomb of King Midas (he who legend has us believe turned all into gold by touch alone).
The race is on to use the geolabe to decipher a map that points to the lost tomb, understand the microbe truth behind the myth, save the world from a dirty bomb and generally save the day. Car chases on autobahns, gun battles at the Parthenon, a motley cast of inept henchmen, and a strong jawed silent hero that his sidekick inevitably falls in love with come together to create a thrill-a-minute ride that's pretty good.
Boyd Morrison has produced an airport novel that achieves an aim of wasting time on a flight in enjoyable action and derring-do. Unfortunately, it's way too close to Andy McDermott (who does it better) in characterisation and style. A case of "already done" which limits the impact this might otherwise have had. Still, the glut of these novels out there haven't touched on Midas yet so it was interesting to see how Morrison has myth meet science in a manner that is plausible for the reader - which is key to enjoying the novel. Tyler Locke is a suitable hero for the novel; Stacy Benedict may not reappear - but if she does, she needs to be less Nina Wilde.
Worth the download price, expect it to be just like all the other novels out there right now. I've read a lot worse, but there's better out there.