"The Vault" by Boyd Morrison: Book Review

"The Vault" by Boyd Morrison
Touchstone/Simon&Schuster, 438 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James

Picture a red Ferrari 458 Italia tearing down the Autobahn at 200 mph, and you've got a taste of the pacing in Boyd Morrison's follow-up thriller to "The Ark."

The author brings back Dr. Tyler Locke, young engineer extraordinaire, heavy into all things Archimedes, and a grand hand at defusing a bomb.

Herein, Locke's talents are turned against him, although he will be driving that Ferrari in due course.

Locke's co-victim turned cohort is TV host Stacy Benedict. Unlike the worse-than-average number of nitwit members of her profession, Benedict has a brain, and she puts it to good use with her knowledge of classical antiquities and multiple languages, including Greek.

Following cryptic (to put it mildly) clues left by Archimedes, Locke and Benedict are pressed into a quest for King Midas' fortune, the price of gold being what it is.

And it's about to go up, if madman Jordan Orr has anything to do about it.

Throw it in reverse and say what? You didn't realize the King was for real?

Morrison makes the Midas myth sound plausible, given something of a scientific explanation.

The maniacal Orr abducts Locke's father and Benedict's sister in order to make Tyler and Stacy bend to his wishes.

Tyler and Stacy discover that Orr has actually seen Midas' tomb, as a child, deep within the maze of tunnels underneath Naples, Italy, and he's convinced he can get to it again.

Simultaneously, Orr's cousin, Gia Cavano-- who glimpsed the tomb at the same time, decades ago-- is determined to claim the riches herself.

Furthermore, she has been double-crossed by Cousin Jordan. She also happens to be a Neapolitan crime lord (goddess?) who eats vendettas atop her pasta.

Gia makes for a most delicious villain, at that. Incidentally, that Ferrari belongs to her.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, at least in Tyler's and Stacy's for-instance, as Gia complicates their search for the location of Midas' tomb.

As if the joy-ride factor weren't high enough, Morrison has a tremendous denouement involving a radioactive dirty bomb.

The author displays a masterful sense of narrative drive in a story that moves from West Coast to East Coast, to London, Munich, Athens, and Naples, with bountiful travelogue details.

The historical, scientific, and archaeological backgrounds to the plot elevate the action in a book that would be suitable for just about anyone over the age of thirteen.

If you're looking for a fun summer (or anytime) novel for yourself and/or the younger members of your household who ought to be partaking of some reading, then your quest begins and ends with "The Vault."

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