Friday, May 22, 2009

Execution doesn’t live up to the premise

I’ve been reading a lot of new (and new to me) authors lately, with mixed results. Sometimes I discover a new favorite, and other times I find myself desperate to return to a familiar solid performer. Davis Bunn has written quite a few books, so that puts him in the new to me category. Unfortunately, I felt sadly let down by Gold of Kings.

It had a fun premise, an international hunt for ancient treasure. That’s almost always a winner for me. But Gold of Kings failed from the get-go, and it was more a problem of character than plot. In short, none of the characters worked for me. I don’t know if the bigger problem was that they didn’t seem real, or if they were real, but unlikable. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Our first main character is gorgeous, 25-year-old Storm Syrrell, an antiquities dealer out of Palm Beach. Art and antiquities has been the family business for generations, but Storm’s grandfather, Sean, has just died, leaving the business in dire straights. Soon, however, the question becomes did Sean die, or was he murdered? Regardless, one thing he did before his death was spring his old friend Harry Bennett from a Barbados prison. Harry had been locked up for 17 months on a trumped up charge alleging he’d been illegally bringing up treasure within Barbados’s territorial waters. His time in prison has left this “treasure dog” a changed, wary man. Regardless, he owes Sean a lot and is saddened to learn of his friend’s death. Harry’s job is to protect Storm. He and Storm team up to investigate clues Sean left behind, but even though Storm is “smoking” the author makes it very, very clear that neither is attracted to the other. No, that role is filled by our final main character, a federal agent named Emma Webb.

I could write more about the convoluted plot, but I really don’t care about it enough to do so. Bunn hasn’t written anything else we haven’t seen before. All in all, I’m afraid I found the whole thing a bit of a snooze. My recommendation is to skip this novel. You can do better.

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