Headline | 2017 (21 September) | 560p | Review copy | Buy the book
Nina and Eddie are trying not to get into too much trouble these days, largely thanks to their little girl, Macy. Nina is now resigned to doing the kind of archaeology that won’t get her killed while there are no more daring missions in distant lands for ex-SAS soldier Eddie. So, while Nina is off in Israel recording her new TV series – discovering King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem in front of the cameras – Eddie is staying with his father in England with Macy. But when Nina ventures into a sealed room in the temple she discovers a wondrous thing – a miniature model of an entire city. Its inscriptions reveal it to be Zhakana, City of the Damned, and ‘the greatest secret’ of Sheba, who took Solomon there after she became his wife. Nina is sure that the model is also a map to the city’s position and it isn’t long before she locates it, lost in the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo. To Nina it is irresistible.
Of course the DRC is one of the most dangerous countries in the world and Eddie knows that better than anyone, having run into all sorts of trouble there in the past. And so if Nina’s going, so is Eddie. Unfortunately, Nina’s expeditions always attract the worst kind of attention and they are not alone in hunting Zhakana and the terrible mystery the ancient city hides. It’s just a pity that their enemy is about to make it personal and the consequences will be catastrophic.
I am a huge fan of Andy McDermott’s Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase thrillers. I’ve been reading them for years and devoured each one as soon as I can get hold of it. I love Nina and Eddie so much – she’s the brainy redheaded American archaeologist while Eddie is the brave baldheaded, gap-toothed, foul-mouthed Yorkshire ex-soldier, whose puns are appalling and who adores Nina and is adored in return. They have quite a history these two. I definitely recommend that you read the earlier books to discover what they’ve been through and the incredible wonders that they’ve unearthed and (to be honest) damaged quite considerably (obviously through no fault of their own) over the years.
King Solomon’s Curse is the thirteenth thriller in the series and follows on from The Midas Legacy which marked a bit of a change for our daring couple and for the series. The reason for this was
the birth of Macy, their daughter, and this changed the dynamic of the novels a fair bit. Also, several of the side characters that we’ve enjoyed have now gone (usually in the six-foot under direction). In my opinion The Midas Legacy suffered from this and so, if I had to pick my least favourite of the series, it would be that one. But the good news is that King Solomon’s Curse is definitely a return to form for the series, author and Nina and Eddie alike!
This story has so much going for it and there is a new level of grit which was missing in the last book. There’s all of the archaeological mystery that I love so much about this series (although I never really understood what the mystery object is that the city hides) but wrapped around it is another story which is violent, bloody and at times shocking and even merciless. It extends beyond the removed setting of the jungle, moving later to London and by this stage I was on the edge of my seat. This is a baddie of epic proportions.
If I had to find fault it would be in its length. At about 560 pages, this is a very long book for an action thriller. It certainly speeds up during the second half but there were times earlier on when I did get a little bogged down in it. For an exciting thriller it isn’t a fast read. But I didn’t want to miss anything, and I love Nina and Eddie so much that I didn’t want to wish away my time with them. There is a lot going on here. In The Midas Legacy my patience for Macy ran out very quickly indeed but I’m pleased to report that there isn’t as much of ‘a Macy factor’ in King Solomon’s Curse.
I loved how the novel moved from archaeological mystery to action thriller. Andy McDermott is such an enjoyable and clever thriller writer. I liked the novel’s references to current affairs (they don’t intrude but they’re there to pick up on) and also to Clive Cussler’s The Solomon Curse! And I loved the repartee between Eddie and Nina. I’m so pleased that King Solomon’s Curse has moved us on from The Midas Legacy and I suspect that the next novel will do so even more. It isn’t easy thinking what archaeological glories there are left for Nina to discover but I have no doubt that Andy McDermott will think of something and, as usual, I’ll watch in wonder. And groan at Eddie’s jokes…