Picture a hotel room in 1948 Singapore. Picture a dispute between black marketer and thief Russell Pearce and an associate-an associate who opens fire and murders Russell Pearce.
Fast forward to present-day Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Young Doug Pearce, just fired from his steady job in the brewery, has never strayed far from home. But he's always found stories of his Uncle Russ, the family black sheep, fascinating. In comes a letter from an old friend of his dead uncle inviting him up to Toronto. Doug, at loose ends and bored with killing time, accepts. On arrival, he learns that wealthy and glamorous Edna has an agenda: she has assembled enough clues to solve the murder of Russell Pearce and to recover a legendary red diamond he was thought to be smuggling.
Doug, nervous but game, agrees to play detective. How bad can it be to jet off to a glamour spot or two and have an adventure? Whoa! By the end of his first day in Casablanca, Doug knows he's made a mistake. And while he meets people eager to help-a retired museum curator, a beautiful and self-absorbed heiress, and her elderly father, a colleague of Russell Pearce-it becomes clear that someone else is interested in Doug, someone who is also looking for the diamond.
From Morocco to Egypt to Bahrain to Singapore, Doug stumbles on. And whether he's escaping across Cairo rooftops, ducking bullets in a high-speed desert chase, or killing time in a crowded Egyptian jail cell, Doug is sure of one thing: He has no clue what he's doing. But surely he'll think of something as he's propelled full circle back to Singapore and the famed Raffles Hotel. He's definitely not 007...but will he prove to be a zero?
Benoit's smashingly good, action-packed first novel leads Douglas Pearce, a young brewery worker from Pottstown, Pa., on a quest for information about his long-dead uncle that takes him from Toronto to Casablanca, Cairo, Bahrain and Singapore, before returning him to Toronto. He gets on the trail of a huge stolen gem, and along the way finds rascals, thugs, thieves and vamps among the archeology scholars, ex-museum directors and encyclopedia publishers who appear to be his guides. With much wit and invention, Benoit convincingly portrays the Middle East. A hilarious account of chaos in the Cairo airport reads like an updated scene from Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad. Benoit adroitly contrasts the modern features of North Africa and Asia with the remnants of their ancient pasts. Two murderous chases through urban and rural Egypt build to a resolution that remains well concealed until the final pages. Some readers may find the sex scenes too brief and a bit strange, but this is a quibble. Benoit is a rare discovery, and one hopes that he plans to produce more adventure-oriented mysteries with the same skill and energy that propel this excellent debut.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Poisoned Pen Press
January 31, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.