The Midas Trap
The Midas Trap is a globe-trotting adventure in the Indiana Jones mold, with a pair of archeologists in pursuit of an ancient treasure. It’s a very cool story and a fun read.
The daughter of two archaeologists, Veronica Bright grew up traveling the Mediterranean with them from one ancient site to another. She was destined to follow in their footsteps. But while studying for her doctorate, she presented a paper theorizing that ancient myths were actually histories of real events and some of the most famous treasures from mythology really exist. Her ideas were greeted with disdain, turning her into a laughingstock among her colleagues. Her credibility shattered in academic circles, she founded her own company, Discovery Incorporated, which does freelance work excavating sites around the world.
Then one day Simon Owens walks into her office. They’d shared a kiss years earlier, one she’d initially hoped might lead to more. But Simon was one of those who’d mocked her for her theories, accusing her of inept archaeology. Now he needs her help. Simon found evidence that the legend of Midas could be true, and that an artifact known as the Midas Stone can facilitate the transformation of objects into gold. Supposedly, the key to finding the Midas Stone is another long-lost treasure, the Eye of Artemis. The only reference he’s been able to find to the Eye is in the paper Veronica presented that he and his ilk savaged. He wants to know how to find the Eye of Artemis; she wants the chance to salvage her reputation and prove her theories correct. Though he initially resists having her along, she leaves him no choice but to take her with him. They set off for Rome to find a text long-suppressed by the Vatican, with Veronica’s nemesis – and former lover – in pursuit.
The book definitely has an Indiana Jones vibe, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. It’s a fast-paced read with plenty of exciting set pieces and great action scenes that take place in exotic locales. After a brief prologue set centuries ago, the story opens with an action sequence as Veronica attempts to steal something back from her former lover Michael, something he earlier stole from her. There’s a bit of exposition as Simon arrives and introduces the Midas Stone. Unlike many books where the exposition is awkward or slow, what they’re discussing here is so fascinating the pace never flags for a moment. I liked reading about Simon’s ideas and Veronica’s attempts to verify their truth before signing on with him as much as the later action scenes. Before long, the two archaeologists are off and running, infiltrating the Vatican through the catacombs beneath it, catching a freight ship to Istanbul, and uncovering ancient chambers hidden for centuries. If you love this kind of storyline as much as I do, this is a fun one.
Sharron McClellan is a newer writer (this is her first book with a major publisher after two with a smaller press) and it shows. The book isn’t as polished as it could be. There are aspects that could be developed more and times when the storytelling could be smoother or clearer. There are also some continuity errors. The University of Columbia and Columbia University are used interchangably, when only the second one is right. At one point the author says that after Veronica’s failed presentation, “she’d finished her Ph.D as quickly as possible.” But then Veronica’s sister tells her, “You lost your chance at a Ph.D.” Which is it?
There are a lot of little things like that that I could mention, but in the overall scheme of things, the weaknesses were all fairly minor and the story was generally already moving on to something else before I could be overly bothered by them. The plot races along from one cool locale and exciting moment to another. The characters aren’t deep (it’s not that kind of book), but they are fun and likable. I liked Veronica more and more as the story went on and she was forced to deal the obstacles thrown in her path. The ending leaves the door open for a sequel. I don’t know if one is planned, but I’d jump at the chance to read it.
The Midas Trap is a great armchair adventure for readers looking for a book to take them all around to world to cool places in search of fantastic treasures. I had a blast reading it. You just might too.