Avon | 2020 (28 May) | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
When Ross Campbell stumbles across a lost hoard of gold coins by Loch Ardaich in the Scottish Highlands, he finds himself in all sorts of trouble. He finds himself dead. People want those coins and they’ll stop at nothing to find them. That means they also go after Ross’s colleague, who turns out to be the nephew of one Boonzie McCulloch, a retired army sergeant who happens to be the close friend and mentor of Ben Hope. When Boonzie goes missing, Ben Hope immediately leaps into action, racing from his home in France to the wintry Highlands. All hell breaks loose. This is Ben Hope, after all.
In my opinion, and I know I’m right in this, Ben Hope is the greatest action hero you can find in fiction being written today and this is my favourite thriller series. I’ve reviewed these books for years and read them for much longer than that. I adore them and I love Ben. The Pretender’s Gold is the 21st in the series and I’m not surprised to say that it is fabulous and is among my favourites. As with all of these books, it stands alone very well but hopefully it might inspire you to go back and discover Ben’s earlier adventures.
I loved the setting for The Pretender’s Gold. Ben spends much of his time fighting baddies and righting wrongs across the globe, while his home – a farm where he and his team train forces to rescue hostages – is in France. This time he’s in Britain and the Scottish location is wonderful. There is a great deal of warmth in the descriptions of the Highlands and their people. You can feel the cold as Ben tramps across snowy hills and through frosty woods on the trail of an elite band of killers. The story is a good one, too, going back to a particularly interesting period of Scottish history. I’ve always enjoyed how these novels, to varying degrees, mix history and thrills.
Ben is a fantastic character. Hated by car rental companies and loved by whisky distillers, hating to kill but still very good at it, and almost unkillable but, we sense, not really. His past is chequered but for this novel he leaves much of that behind. His focus is on his old army friend Boonzie, who is quite a character in his own right. I loved spending time with him. We care for him and desperately want Ben to save the day.
At a time when I’m slow to read a book, I raced through The Pretender’s Gold. I read it during a dark time and it, and Ben Hope, was good company. These books are so well written. They’re exciting and exhilarating with just the right amount of humour. But there are also shadows. Ben might be an action hero but there is substance to him. He feels like an old friend to me and it was a joy to spend time with him once more. I can’t wait to rave about him again.
Ben Hope 7: The Sacred Sword
Ben Hope 8: The Armada Legacy
Ben Hope 9: The Nemesis Program
Ben Hope 10: The Forgotten Holocaust
Ben Hope 11: The Martyr’s Curse
Ben Hope 12: The Cassandra Sanction
Ben Hope 13: Star of Africa
Ben Hope 14: The Devil’s Kingdom
Ben Hope 15: The Babylon Idol
Ben Hope 16: The Bach Manuscript
Ben Hope 17: The Moscow Cipher
Ben Hope 18: The Rebel’s Revenge
Ben Hope 19: Valley of Death
Ben Hope 20: House of War