The Blood of Alexander by Tom Wilde is a debut thriller featuring a global organization dedicated to stealing back antiquities, one of which may lead adventurer Jonathan Blake to the tomb of Alexander the Great (available April 29, 2014).
Part Indiana Jones and part Jason Bourne, Jonathan Blake is a highly-trained antiquities expert for the Argo Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to “preserving the past and expanding the boundaries of man’s knowledge of his own history upon planet Earth.” Before he was found by the foundation, however, Blake’s life had taken a very different turn.
I took in a shuddering breath, full of the thick jungle air that to me, after my timeless stay in a disease-ridden hellhole, was sweeter than any wine. My eye, the one I could still see out of, found a cluster of bright stars burning through a hole in the dense tropical forest canopy— stars so bright they almost hurt after all the time I’d spent in the dark. In the next instant I had to clamp my good eye shut against a sputtering glare that came from a match struck nearby. I felt the flicker of the flame through my eyelid as a deep, rough voice said in English, “Mother of God, they really did a number on you, kid.”
Now, Jonathan Blake travels the world searching for antiquities. Blake tracks them down and “rescues” the artifacts from those who have stolen and hidden them away. His job takes him into some of the most dangerous places on earth. After a successful, but difficult, assignment in Afghanistan, Blake’s bosses at The Argo Foundation call him in for a meeting. He is surprised when a Mr. Jonas is also in attendance.
We all took our seats at the table as Jonas said, “Mr. Blake, we have received information concerning you from an associate of yours. You know Mr. Yusef Mohammad, of course?”
So there it was— after all the trouble I took to keep from having to kill that drug-peddling, motherless little demon, he goes and rats me out to my own government. So much for honor among thieves. I kept myself in neutral as I replied, “So, how is dear old Yusef the Storyteller these days? Doing time in a Turkish prison, I hope?”
Mr. Jonas was unmoved. “Mr. Mohammad is what we call an ‘intelligence asset’; he supplies us with information regarding the Middle East.”
“Is that all he supplies?” I asked. “You know he’s a drug smuggler and illegal arms merchant, right?”
My announcement had no apparent effect on Mr. Jonas’s frozen features as he said, “I shall start from the beginning.”
“For those who came in late,” Nicholas rumbled, looking pointedly at me.
Blake is then sent to Paris to retrieve a gilded bronze eagle that once belonged to Napolean Bonaparte. Caitlin Street, who works for the undisclosed government intelligence service sponsoring the retrieval, is tasked with accompanying him on the mission—as his bodyguard. They are to pose as a newlywed couple visiting the romantic city.
“I have an Argo Foundation expense account. But don’t think that entitles you to the really expensive martini.”
“Oh? Which martini is that?”
“Specialty of the house. They take an actual diamond and put it in the glass. It goes for around ten thousand bucks.”
“What a lovely wedding present that would make.”
“Did I mention company expense account?”
She gave me her mysterious smile. “Oh, dear. I seem to have married another cheapskate.”
“Another? You’ve been married before?”
“Yes,” she said seriously. “I’m a widow.”
“Yes. It was rather sudden.”
“He didn’t buy me the martini I wanted.”
The pair runs into trouble soon after arriving in the City of Light. Their scheduled meeting turns out to be a set-up, and Blake and Caitlin are separated. Thus begins a chase that leads the adventurers to various locales, including the catacombs of Paris, the French Alps, and Corsica.
A thrilling blend of history, humor and danger, The Blood of Alexander kept me turning pages well into the night in order to find out how Caitlin and Blake would get out of each predicament. Then I needed to know how the next clue would land them in even more trouble.
Given the mandate of The Argo Foundation, there are countless possibilities for new missions to search for more historical artifacts in exotic locations around the globe. That’s good news for anyone who gets hooked on this first adventure.
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Debbie Meldrum reads just about everything she can get her hands on. She was the short fiction editor for Apollo's Lyre and the Editor in Chief of the Pikes Peak Writers NewsMag. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel.