By Douglas Preston
It’s a really great feeling to just pick up a book from the library and discover a treasure that has been sitting on shelves for the past 15 years.
That’s what happened to me with Douglas Preston’s “The Codex.” It cost me most of a weekend’s work, but was worth every minute and more.
To begin with, I’m kind of a patsy for Mayan treasure stories, and although I don’t really remember why I picked this one up, I’d bet that in addition to the author’s name, it was the cover illustration of a Mayan tomb and some hieroglyphics.
A number of the early reviewers apparently don’t share my viewpoint, with one comparing it unfavorably to Dan Brown’s novels.
It is more simplistic than Brown’s work, but it’s also easier to follow, which is important when you’re reading for pleasure.
After finding the first 60 to 100 pages of a half-dozen more recent novels not to my liking and starting on another, I found this one un-put-downable.
It’s the story of a many-times multimillionaire with grown sons who made his fortune by reclaiming treasures from Mayan tombs and elsewhere.
His three acknowledged sons (all of whom have different mothers) have failed to fulfill either their own abilities or his expectations, and after learning he has only a few months to live, the father decides to challenge them.
He loads up his treasures — art, jewelry, antiquities and more — and hauls them all to a tomb in the Mayan jungles in Honduras, leaving coded instructions for the sons on where to find both him and what they had expected to be their inheritance.
Each son is totally different from the others — and along the way they find yet another half-brother, the son of a Honduran woman the father met while amassing his treasures.
One of the items in the collection is a Mayan Codex, which provides information on natives’ use of herbs and plants in the healing of various diseases.
The older two brothers set off to find the treasure. The third, a veterinarian, does not — but then he meets a young woman seeking the Codex, and decides to accompany her on her search.
He is the brother who eventually finds and rescues the other two, and also encounters the unknown fourth, a Honduran native.
It’s a Mayan jungle version of Swiss Family Robinson as the characters start separately, then join up with the others in their search for the site in which their father has hidden his treasures.
Is it over the top? Of course it is, but I loved it all the same. If you haven’t yet happened across it, and if you like adventure novels, do give it a try.
Sister Eve, Private Eye
By Lynne Hinton
Tyndale House Publishing
Nuns have been the protagonists in at least two other mystery series that I’ve read and enjoyed in years past, so when I happened upon this book in a search for something to read, I decided to try it.
I’m glad I did.
Sister Eve has always been far different from the other members of her Catholic order. Something of a tomboy since birth, she is more comfortable wearing jeans and riding her motorcycle than in practicing silence and traditionally religious behavior.
Her convent is undergoing changes with which she does not agree, and she is in the process of letting those in charge know her feelings.
With her aging father’s health demanding her presence, she takes leave to care for him, discovering for the first time in many years the freedom her previous adult life lacked.
The fact her father is a former sheriff and now a private detective with a murder case to solve, health issues or not, Eve is suddenly in her element, tracking down clues and discovering the truth behind secrets.
It’s a light, quick plot with multi-faceted characters who move it along nicely. I particularly enjoyed the demanding father.
He has just lost a portion of his leg due to advanced diabetic damage, is far from young, and obviously somewhat difficult to get along with. Despite all this, don’t expect him to give up an active lifestyle.
Eve’s crisis of vocation, after having devoted twenty years of life to her faith, adds an interesting touch to the book’s background, and her enjoyment of this non-religious experience, which she expects to last only a few weeks, is obvious.
I liked the book well enough to find another in the series. A review of that one is in my plans for a future column.
The Care and Taming of a Rogue
By Suzanne Enoch
Although I have enjoyed a number of Suzanne Enoch’s other books, I found this one more annoying than interesting.
In it, Bennett Wolfe returns to England after life as an adventurer and publication of a book that achieved a degree of popularity.
Since he has not been exposed to much “civilized” behavior during his adult lifetime, however, his manners leave a great deal to be desired.
He discovers a former companion, who left him dying in the Congo, has not only stolen the journals of his adventures, but published them under his own name.
Bennett meets Lady Philippa (“Flip”), they spar and eventually fall in love, but the sparks between them never reached the pages I read.
Enoch has previously done much better, and I was disappointed in this one.