Tupac Amaru, the last Inca emperor, was executed by the conquistadores. But his body does not get to rest in peace: when archaeologists uncover his reburied remains, a graverobber steals the funerary artifacts, in ignorance leaving behind only the death mask. A 30-year-old Marine is among the American undergraduate students at the summer field camp in Peru. His quest to avenge the woman and children murdered by the thief leads him and a friend across the world on a dangerous mission.
From Peru to Bolivia to Rio de Janeiro to Rome to Saudi Arabia to Egypt to New York... The author lets the reader see all these locations through several viewpoints, including the various villains (although several of these are too clichéd).
There aren't a lot of subtleties in this book, which relies primarily on plot, with fast-paced action and dialogue carrying the question of whether the Marine and his friend will get themselves killed before returning the artifacts to the archaeologists. I would rather that more of the locals (anywhere in the world) were described in a less patronizing way, that the Americans weren't always one step ahead of their enemies, and that some of the plot twists hinged on something more than coincidence. The action is not all focused on the deadly gamble, though.
Sexually aggressive women provide a few moments of fun that don't involve anyone dying. The one love interest is a vegetarian archaeologist who wears a Che Guevara t-shirt with no bra under it, drinks whiskey with her Coke, can fix her jeep (and drive it too fast), and is willing to risk her life to save a guy she just recently met.
I liked having the chapters titled, in the old-fashioned way. The author also did a good job overall with the pacing, interspersing backstory and physical descriptions with action. Only in a few scenes did the pacing get bogged down.
The course the book took disappointed me a little; from the book description I expected to read more about the artifacts and why they're important enough to kill for.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy to review.
4-star review originally published on Amazon September 20, 2011, but this book appears to be no longer available!
For several years I reviewed very few books because Amazon got snitty about authors as reviewers. When I read back through those old Amazon reviews, I decided to copy some to my own website.
Authors Desiring Reviews
Please e-mail me if you want an honest but potentially harsh review and are OK with it being posted here and Goodreads but not on Amazon. Be warned: I won't read anything that has a lot of grammatical or spelling errors.