Formats available: ebook
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #1
Published by Anna Hackett on May 22nd 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
One former Navy SEAL. One dedicated archeologist. One secret map to a fabulous lost oasis.
Finding undiscovered treasures is always daring, dangerous, and deadly. Perfect for the men of Treasure Hunter Security. Former Navy SEAL Declan Ward is haunted by the demons of his past and throws everything he has into his security business—Treasure Hunter Security. Dangerous archeological digs – no problem. Daring expeditions – sure thing. Museum security for invaluable exhibits – easy. But on a simple dig in the Egyptian desert, he collides with a stubborn, smart archeologist, Dr. Layne Rush, and together they get swept into a deadly treasure hunt for a mythical lost oasis. When an evil from his past reappears, Declan vows to do anything to protect Layne.
Dr. Layne Rush is dedicated to building a successful career—a promise to the parents she lost far too young. But when her dig is plagued by strange accidents, targeted by a lethal black market antiquities ring, and artifacts are stolen, she is forced to turn to Treasure Hunter Security, and to the tough, sexy, and too-used-to-giving-orders Declan. Soon her organized dig morphs into a wild treasure hunt across the desert dunes.
Danger is hunting them every step of the way, and Layne and Declan must find a way to work together…to not only find the treasure but to survive.
Somewhere, in the dim, dark reaches of the Phoenix Brothers’ family tree, lurk Declan Ward and Layne Rush. Not that having those two as ancestors would be a bad thing AT ALL. It’s much more that having met these two contemporary heroes, it’s impossible not to see their descendants thriving hundreds of years later, and carrying on the family business – treasure hunting.
The situation reminds me of the early years of Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz’s Arcane Society series, along with her Harmony books as Jayne Castle. I just knew that someday, somehow, those two series were going to connect – as they eventually did.
So thinking of Declan and Layne as 21st Century versions of Dathan Phoenix and Dr. Eos Rai from At Star’s End doesn’t seem all that implausible. But every bit as much fun.
The story is a familiar one. Dr. Layne Rush is a professional treasure hunter – well, not exactly. Rush is an archaeologist who seems to have a knack for finding buried treasure – and recently dead bodies where she’s expecting to find only centuries-dead ones. Her dig is investigating a previously undiscovered tomb, and is trying to determine exactly who is buried there, as well as what might have been buried with them. When she is attacked and her discoveries stolen by a gang of well-armed thugs, her university calls in some security experts to keep her, her team and their finds safe.
Enter Declan Ward and the men and women of Treasure Hunter Security. Declan’s father is also a well-known historian, and his mother is a famous and intrepid treasure hunter. Declan himself is an ex-SEAL, and he heads a team of men and women who learned how to fight and survive in some of the deadliest places on Earth, against some of the nastiest people that you never want to meet.
Including Rush’s attacker. Anders is a former SAS officer with a penchant for torture and murder. He likes to toy with his victims, and he kills for fun. It seems as if stealing treasures is just a way of funding his sadistic life, and it puts him in faraway places where policing isn’t top notch and a few people from the lowest classes won’t be missed – not even when they turn up dead and dismembered.
Declan and Anders have met before. Declan exposed Anders’ depravity, but was too busy trying to save his victims to gather enough evidence to prosecute the bastard. Now Declan feels responsible for every fresh kill. He wants to get Anders and save Rush.
Mostly he just wants Rush. So Declan and Layne find themselves on a hunt for a long-lost treasure, with Anders and his goons hot on their heels.
It’s a race for survival – with love, fame and fortune if they win, and death in the desert if they lose. In this case, winning really isn’t just everything, it really is the only thing.
Escape Rating B+: There are a lot of similarities to the first Phoenix Adventures story, At Star’s End. There is also more than a bit of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series in here as well. And for those who miss that series, the callback to The Last Camel Died At Noon brings back some terrific memories. The whole story along with the series titles, also reminds me more than a bit of the Uncharted video game series. Nathan Drake would fit right into Declan Ward’s crew.
In both Undiscovered and The Last Camel Died at Noon, the search is for a mythical lost Egyptian city that is supposed to be filled with treasure. And turns out to be rather different from what the seekers believe they are seeking. Along with a whole lot of interesting debate about who the ancient Egyptian gods really were and what their stories meant.
There was a moment in Undiscovered where I feared that the author might take the easy way out and make Rush’s professionally jealous male colleague into either the scapegoat or the villain. I was glad to see that not happen. Also grateful that his jealousy was purely professional.
On that other hand, Anders comes off as “bwahaha” evil. He seems to be evil for evil’s sake. And there is something about the way that he revels in his evilness that came off as more SF monster than sociopathic human. Your mileage may vary.
But this story is all Declan and Layne. He keeps her alive on an unexpected desert trek, and she pulls her own weight AND figures out all the puzzles. He knows just enough to provide the occasional clue, or more often just an intelligent listener to bounce things off of. But the archaeological mystery is all her show. As it should be.
I’m looking forward to meeting (and falling for) the rest of Declan’s team in the upcoming books in this series. Next up is his brother Callum’s story in Uncharted, and I can hardly wait.