The Prisoner’s Gold | Chris Kuzneski | 2015, Pb 2016 | Headline | 371p | Review copy | Buy the book
The hunters are back. Now all wealthy in their own right, it’s more than money that holds Jack Cobb’s tight team together as they embark on their third treasure hunt – and this time they will head East.
At the end of the 13th century a Venetian merchant was held prisoner by the Genoese in Italy. While a captive, he entertained another prisoner with tales of his adventures ‘to the far edges of Tartary’ or China. The other prisoner managed to write down his friend’s memories, hoping at some time that he, too, might tread in the footsteps of this extraordinary merchant and adventurer, Marco Polo.
Jean-Marc Papineau, the man holding the purse strings who hands down the missions to the hunters, believes that this account, and other manuscripts hidden away securely (supposedly) in museums and other sites across Europe and the East, may well hold the key to one of the great lost treasures of the history – the mythical gold hoard of Marco Polo.
Jack Cobb (soldier and technician), Josh McNutt (sniper), Sarah Ellis (thief and athlete), Hector Garcia (hacker), and Maggie (historian and linguist) immediately set off to find – and liberate – the other sources and, despite their promise to Jean-Marc to fly under radar, manage to spark off several international incidents along the way as they follow the clues to China. Unfortunately, they soon attract the attention of Feng He, the leader of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, a secret organsiation that has fought against western influence in China for centuries. Matters aren’t helped by Cobb’s suspicion that Jean-Marc is hiding something from them – while Jean-Marc finances them, who finances Jean-Marc? Of course, the memories of their previous mission are raw and can’t fail to affect the team’s mood. The only thing that they can rely on is each other.
The Prisoner’s Gold is the third novel in the Hunters series. It’s a fully stand alone adventure but there is a bigger picture that you’ll only get if you read the novels in sequence. The last novel, The Forbidden Tomb, in particular, had dire consequences for the team. If you don’t want to know what those are then it would be best to read The Forbidden Tomb first.
The mood in The Prisoner’s Gold returns us a little to the more carefree adventurous spirit of the first book in the series, The Hunters. Likewise, the plot and mystery of The Prisoner’s Gold reaches the quality of The Hunters. The Forbidden Tomb was a different experience altogether – at times very upsetting, it focused on the team rather than the mystery and events proved that they are not immortal, however skilled and intrepid they might be. In that novel we had the first glimpse of something happening beyond the team of which they had yet to become aware. This is built on in The Prisoner’s Gold and promises much for future novels. It’s good to see an action thriller series evolving and The Hunters series definitely seems to be doing just that.
There is a definite early Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt feel to this series – Kuzneski even has the characters mention him at some point; something we’re used to in the Pitt novels. The characters of the team are probably what you’d expect from this kind of comparison with Cobb and McNutt doing their best to remind me of Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. It is still relatively early days for the Hunter series and there is much to learn about Cobb, a character I’m thoroughly enjoying, but McNutt continues to be an irritation, crossing the line on a few occasions into offensiveness (thumping a corpse in the face because it falls on him in a suggestive manner was a particular low point). But with the exception of McNutt, I enjoy the team dynamics and look forward to discovering more about them. I still live in hope that McNutt will calm down…
The Hunters is such a good book and I was so pleased to find an adventure in The Prisoner’s Gold that is every bit as entertaining and exciting. Every time I put The Prisoner’s Gold down, I was looking forward to getting back to it. It’s such fun to read. There aren’t many thriller series at all that I will avidly read as soon as each comes out (Scott Mariani’s Ben Hope, James Rollins’ Sigma and Andy McDermott’s Nina and Eddie thrillers are the ones that spring to mind) but the Hunters series has now joined their ranks. I can’t wait to see what the hunters get up to next.