Andy McDermott has been writing the adventures of American archaeologist Nina Wile and her ex-SAS Yorkshireman husband Eddie Chase since just 2007 and he has been prodigious. The latest, Temple of the Gods, is the eighth thriller in the series and one that received a slightly earlier release on the kindle than in its treebook format. When I heard that I snapped it up. I may have been late in discovering the appeal of the Wilde/Chase thrillers but I’ve made up for it by reading all eight in little over a year. This has also given me an advantage. The seventh novel Empire of Gold ended very differently from the books that preceded it – it ended on a cliffhanger that only immediate immersion in Temple of the Gods could satisfy. Therefore, you really should read Empire of Gold first. In fact, I would argue that you should give yourself a holiday treat and read the lot.
You don’t need me to tell you that suspension of belief is a desirable quality when reading archaeological thrillers. It is certainly rewarded here. And while one may have visited Atlantis so many times in thrillers that it’s almost as familiar as any other historical site that actually survives on a map, there’s a lot less justification for its existence here than say in The Gods of Atlantis by David Gibbins. Andy McDermott revels in it. In the first of the adventures, Nina and Eddie met during The Hunt for Atlantis and in this book they return to it, having found that their adventures elsewhere on the planet have all contained further clues to explain the ancient enigma of Atlantis, the hub of civilisation. All roads have led back.
But what roads they’ve been. Previous novels have taken us to pyramids, Glastonbury, lost Inca cities, a hidden valley in the Himalayas and more besides in what is essentially an Atlantean trail, not to mention a rogues gallery of meglomaniacs, all intent on taking over the world and killing as many people as possible while using the most devious of technologies. More than one of them has the added help of Sophia, Eddie’s previous wife who seems to have left the marriage with an overwhelming compulsion to kill her ex-husband.
There are formulae here – ancient nasty traps reminiscent of Indiana Jones, enemies made much earlier in life who pop up again and the inability of some people to just die, even with their arm stuffed inside a nuclear device or when they’re being chucked off a precipice. There is also a repetition through the series. Eddie and Nina flit between sauce and argument with the predictability of a set of traffic lights. Nevertheless, Eddie and Nina are very difficult to dislike. Even Eddie’s deafness – caused by close proximity to gunfire and bombs (including the nuclear variety) – is endearing. Nina’s Americanness and Eddie’s Yorkshire characteristics make for an interesting cultural clash (to put it politely). There is more tongue in Eddie’s cheek than is good for him.
But by this time in the series, we know the leads and some other characters very well and shocks that took place in Empire of Gold continue to resonate here. This eighth adventure is, as a result, a little different. This time, the emphasis is much less on archaeological discovery than on resolution. Despite that, the quest takes Eddie and Nina across the world as normal, escaping a succession of dangers by the skin of their teeth, and the pages fly by as normal.
It is likely that if this were the only Wilde/Chase adventure you picked up, it would mean much less to you that it would if it marked the continuation of your enjoyment of Nina and Eddie’s highly entertaining, energetic and funny ride. How about, then, setting your disbelief detectors to ‘off’ for the time being and diving in.