Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seven Cities of Greed by Jean Sheldon

Reviewed for Review the Book
Published by Bast Press

A very entertaining treasure hunt and thriller, somewhat reminiscent of the "Sisterhood" series by Fern Michaels with its mixed group of heroes.  Jean Sheldon has written an adventure based on legend and history from the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s and the discovery of a journal presumably dated from 1539.

The reader is brought into the story very quickly with the abduction of Jacqueline Tracy, who has unwittingly purchased this journal at a book auction because she liked the carved leather cover. She has a tendency to forget about auction purchases until they are delivered and so is unable to tell her kidnappers where the journal is.

Jackie's friends, almost all middle-aged including Jackie, soon realize she is missing. The police won't do anything until there is more information, so the women turn to Jackie's friend Nicole, an ex-cop and now private investigator. Little do they know the abuse Jackie is going through, nor the kindness of one of her captors, a giant of a man.

Her band of merry girls manages to rescue her, but they are incredulous when Jackie hires Chuck, the captor's 7'4" assistant, to be her bodyguard, and she won't take "no" for an answer. She is sure he is a good man and didn’t want any part in the kidnapping but had his own reasons for being involved. What impressed her was his kindness and his assistance in helping with her escape. Their group now numbering six including Jackie's Aunt Beth and Chuck, starts trying to sort out what the kidnapping was all about. While Jackie was away, a parcel that had been overlooked in a delivery truck finally made its arrival, and of course, it is the journal being sought after by somebody pulling the strings in the background regarding Jackie's kidnapping.  Someone with a great deal of money and a ruthless greed.

Gwen, a psychiatrist in their close-knit group of friends, is able to translate most of the ancient Spanish, touching off a decision to go to New Mexico. Several things happen that hurry them on their way. Our modern group sets off on a vacation which, though exciting, is not at all the kind of excitement they expected or wanted.

There are several interesting characters in this book, not all in a good way. Our motley but hardy crew is made up with Jackie and her adventurous aunt Beth. Beth Tracy has raised Jackie in Chicago from childhood, the city where all their friends live, but still maintains the house in New Mexico where Jackie lived before her parents died. Pat, whose partner recently died, lives with her cat Zodiac above the bookstore Jackie owns. Nicole, the P.I., Gwen, the psychiatrist, and Chuck, Jackie's new friend, bodyguard and excellent cook. Then there are the "bad" guys under the thumb and threat of one psychotic "Conquistador".

This book surprised me. I learned some history along the way, the legend of the "streets paved with gold" as understood from the journal, that middle-age can be exciting, loyal friendship is a wonderful thing to have, and when you are being chased by a madman always watch your back!  Ms. Sheldon has mixed adventure, terror, history, and the beauty of New Mexico into a story I didn't want to put down. The characters, even the worst of them, molded a certain fascination into the story. I feel with these characters she has the makings of a series, though I have no idea if that is in the author's future. She has written a variety of books and possibly prefers stand-alone stories. I want to keep my eye on this author's output, I'm sure it will be interesting.

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