Book review: The Sacred Vault by Andy McDermott

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Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for take-off...top team Eddie Chase and Nina Wilde are back in town and it’s going to be another rocky ride!

The Sacred Vault is Andy McDermott’s sixth harum-scarum outing with the wisecracking ex-SAS man and his cerebral archaeologist girlfriend, who finally get to tie the knot before plunging headlong into another deadly mission.

Never afraid to deliver a good old-fashioned boys’ own adventure, the master of escapism unashamedly serves up a thrilling concoction of James Bond style action and Indiana Jones flavoured ancient world mystery.

And full marks for such an ingeniously plotted and daring opener... the theft of Michelangelo’s David from his home in the famous Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, no less.

The five-metre high statue is hooked out of the museum by a massive Sikorsky helicopter and so begins a trail of death and destruction because this is just one of a series of spectacular robberies.

The ruthless international gang, led by a sinister paymaster, have already stolen a set of priceless Chinese terracotta warriors and a holy Islamic relic from Mecca and now they have their sights set on the biggest prize of all - the Talonor Codex.

The codex is an ancient book detailing the expeditions of Talonor, one of the greatest explorers of the legendary island of Atlantis, who discovered the location of the Indian Vault of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

The elaborate tome is currently being exhibited in San Francisco by the International Heritage Agency whose director is none other than our own Nina Wilde, now Mrs Eddie Chase.

When the gang break into the exhibition hall using off-road 4x4s and bikes, and with guns blazing, it’s Eddie, naturally, who sets off in hot pursuit on one of their abandoned bikes through the up-and-down streets of San Francisco.

Yes, the hunt is on again, this time to find the sacred vault before the crooks get there first and unearth the key to global annihilation.

McDermott’s book packs in all the ingredients of a blockbuster film – shoot-outs, car chases, kidnappings, dramatic heists and hideously evil baddies – and delivers them at breakneck speed and with liberal dashes of wry humour.

The result is just what the book sets out to achieve...a thrill-a-minute, entertaining romp.

(Headline, paperback, £6.99)