I Do Not Trust You
I’ve always enjoyed stories of archeological treasure hunts since they combine fascinating mythology with daring exploits. Because of that, I Do Not Trust You was an absolute delight for me to read. The tale of a young woman, a mysterious map, a handsome, enigmatic young man and the quest for a lost and powerful artifact, it’s the perfect book for someone looking for an armchair adventure.
After her father’s death, eighteen-year-old Memphis ‘M’ Engel has been counting down the days to graduation and college. She has nothing against her new guardians, a couple who knew her parents back in their college days, but she has nothing in common with them either. M, raised at numerous archeological digs, reads and writes a frightening number of languages, including many from long lost cultures; has an amazing grasp of history; is an expert at spelunking, diving, climbing and martial arts; is an outstanding student and has an intuitive grasp of how to solve problems. The guardians? A perfectly ordinary middle-class American couple – or so she thinks.
Ashwin – Ash – Sood is following M one afternoon when he learns first hand just how fast and talented at martial arts she is. He had known reaching out to her via stalking was a risk, but he wasn’t sure how else to contact her. M’s guardians are actually part of a cult who worship the god Set, and they aren’t taking care of her, they’re holding her hostage. Her father, Dr. Engel, isn’t dead, he’s a prisoner of that same cult. They have him translating a copy of a map that leads to hidden pieces of a statue of Set. The cult believes that if the pieces, scattered around the world, are reunited Set will return to rule over the earth.
Ash, a member of a rival cult called the Eye of Horus, knows M has the original map in her possession. He’s insistent that when Set returns, the god will usher in the apocalypse. He wants M to give him the map, so he can give it to the acolytes of Horus, sworn to protect the world from Set, but M convinces Ash the only way forward is for the two of them to recover the pieces of Set. She’ll trade them to the Horus followers in exchange for their aid in rescuing her father. An epic journey, full of chases, ancient temples, magic and romance follows.
I don’t read hieroglyphs, am unfamiliar with the worship of Set and Horus, don’t know the geography of France and have no knowledge of Sanskrit. That means I can’t speak to the accuracy of the text, the legends it describes or the settings it speaks of. Typically, in these kind of stories, copious artistic liberties are taken, and in this novel that is especially true, since Ash can wield magic and the plot involves the possible reincarnation of a god. Those looking for a travel journal or historically accurate depiction of ancient civilizations should probably look elsewhere. However, those looking for a fast paced, rollicking good time have come to the right place.
The strongest, and most enjoyable component of the tale is the relationship between M and Ash. As the title states, in the beginning, they don’t trust each other. M knows that Ash is willing to negotiate with her only because she has the map. She also knows he wants to steal it from her so he can take the map back to the Eye, which she can’t afford to let happen since it would leave her with no collateral to negotiate for her father’s life. She is rightfully wary of him, yet grows to admire him as she comes to know him. Ash is smart and kind and funny and honorable, in spite of the fact that he clearly had a very rough upbringing. As our story progresses, M begins to trust their joint experiences and her knowledge of his character rather than judging him strictly by who he is working for.
Ash believes that finding the pieces of Set will usher in the apocalypse, but he’s had a secret yearning to locate them since early childhood. M has the map well hidden (his sect has searched for it before) so he uses that as an excuse to join her on her globetrotting adventures. As he comes to know the smart, beautiful adventuress he finds himself more and more drawn to her.
I liked that even when they didn’t trust each other M and Ash treated each other with respect. I liked that they were able to talk out their differences and work as a team. I liked that they were attracted to each other but had the good sense to hold off on the smexy times given that they were being chased by villains and trying to decipher centuries old cryptic clues. The simple fact is I liked M and Ash, both as a couple and as individuals.
The romance here is more interest than action. Ash and M are attracted to each other, and as the story progresses, begin to like each other and truly enjoy each other’s company. The action keeps it from moving beyond the will-they-or-won’t-they phase however, which I thought was perfect given the circumstances.
This book scores high on exploits, fun and camaraderie. Ash and M visit Paris, Norway, South America, North America and a handful of other places as they decode ancient keys and go from being reluctant allies to close friends. The authors handle this all with a light, loving hand, setting the perfect tone for our adventure.
The tale not only involves multiple locations but has multi-cultural stars. Ash is a twenty-two-year-old South Asian Brit and M a biracial (white/Chinese Malaysian) American. They’re very much from the cultures they were raised in however. M teases Ash for his ‘posh’ manners, he congratulates her for being more than just a bratty clone of a Pretty Little Liars character. Their birth cultures are evident only in their appearance; their language and manners are very Western.
I Do Not Trust You is for fans of Laura Croft, Indiana Jones, James Rollins and the classic novels of Alistair MacLean. This entertaining, boisterous tale will be sure to delight aficionados of the action/suspense/thriller market.