Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Honourable Thief, by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios.

           Well.  This is definitely a novel of two halves.  Ms Anastasios has trained as an archaeologist, and her practical knowledge is vast, the research of her book’s subject thorough, well written and cleverly woven into the plot of her story based on a real-life 20th century character whose archaeological career ended in disgrace, his reputation destroyed forever by his inability to prove the existence of a mysterious woman who showed him a priceless cache of treasures supposedly stolen from tombs in Northern Turkey.
            Ms Anastasios’s protagonist is American Benedict Hitchens, an archaeologist passionate about the exciting excavations he is involved with in 1950’s Turkey, a country he has come to love after spending the war years in Crete, fighting for the Resistance troops against the Germans, and facing his own almost unbearable tragedy:  he has put his past behind him (he thinks) until he encounters a young woman on a train who is wearing an ancient and priceless pendant.  Benedict can’t believe his eyes – or his ears – especially when the woman says that she has more like that at home.  Would he like to see?  With his superior knowledge he would be the perfect expert to verify the authenticity of ‘her father’s’ collection.  Needless to say, Benedict is hooked:  he excitedly catalogues her collection, even though he has to draw everything because she won’t have it photographed;  the woman repays his enthusiasm in the usual way (oh, really?);  and when Benedict wakes in a state of bliss the next morning, finds that the young lady and her treasure trove have disappeared.
            Everything turns to custard for him from then on:  his attempts to find her and her jewels attract the attention of the Turkish police, who take a dim view of the illegal excavation and sale of antiquities (especially gold and gems) and it is not long before Benedict is jobless, drowning his many sorrows in Turkish bars and subsisting on falsely verifying forged ‘antiquities’ for a clever friend.  He has hit rock-bottom and so has the plot! 
            Benedict is a horrid drunk;  he has an absurdly short fuse, and the number of times he shakes with fury nearly made me do the same.  Add to that some Mills and Boon soft porn sex scenes (SO much info!) and what was a very readable, rollicking adventure almost came to a tired old halt – until Benedict is given a second chance to resurrect himself - and the plot - by the discovery of an ancient tablet purporting to reveal the way to the Tomb of the Iliad’s legendary warrior Achilles.  Benedict’s heart beats faster, so did mine, and about time!  This is the first book of a series:  let’s hope he cleans up his act.  FOUR STARS.   Maybe.   

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