The business of Jacsen Kidd, the eleventh-generation ancestor of the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd, is hunting treasure – and, business is good. With the financial backing of his culinary friend, the master gourmet and chef Pericles Schmoond, Kidd tracks down the clues that lead them to a hoard of Spanish conquistador booty that could be worth over a billion (that’s with a “b”) dollars – nice work, if you can get it. In Robert James Glider’s action-packed debut mystery novel, Golden Conspiracy, Kidd and Schmoond are pursued by an obsessed and ruthless antiquities dealer, Louis Damia, who will stop at nothing to steal the gold away from the duo once they find it. Also hot on their trial is the ex-KGB assassin, Garth Moska, who has a score to settle with Jacsen. Though new on the scene as a mystery writer, Glider hits a home run his first time at bat with Golden Conspiracy. Here’s hoping it’ll be just the first in a long string of mysteries featuring the unique and colorful treasure hunters Jacsen Kidd and Pericles Schmoond.
Jacsen has a hunch that the Spanish ship the Solitario, which met a fiery finish in 1503 off of the coast of Florida, didn’t go down to Davy Jones’s locker with its cargo of galleons and gold bullion. It traveled with another ship, the Santa Ynez, and the Solitario’s tale was told in two accounts that Kidd obtains access to. One is a diary written by its navigator, Francisco Callejo, and the other is the captain’s log of the Santa Ynez. He believes that at some point in the one-day period before its destruction and the deaths of most of the conquistadors aboard that the gold was unloaded to a third ship, and that this ship managed to sail around the cape of South America before Magellan, and almost made it all the way to Hawaii. A terrible storm arose, and only one of the conquistadors lived through it, making to a beach on Molokai and leaving a sort of map behind before he was captured and later died.
Jac bases these surmises on the fact that a Spanish-style Christian cross and petroglyphs depicting a bearded man were discovered in Molokai. Though the evidence is scant, Jac and Peri believe that it might be possible that whatever mysterious Spaniard visited Molokai in the early sixteenth century might have left behind his golden breastplate medallion, and that a map might be engraved upon its surface. To prove this somewhat wild hypothesis, they fly to Hawaii and then on to Molokai.
There’s plenty of action and adventure in the novel, as I mentioned. Jacsen reminds me of a cross between Johnny Depp’s take on Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and James Bond. Sparrow, because he was a pirate and Jac is descended from a famous pirate, and they both go by Jack, though Kidd spells his version without the “k”. Jac is a womanizer, like Bond, and he has military experience, having been in a special ops unit during the Gulf War, so he knows how to use weapons and fight hand-to-hand, like Bond.
Nicole (“Nikki”) Thomas is assigned by Damia to keep tabs on Jac and Peri and learn more about their plans and the gold. She believes it’ll be a task she can readily handle, but she can’t help but fall for Jac, and regret her association with Damia. She is afraid that if she tells Jac the truth, though, Damia will find out and have her killed. When Damia and his bodyguards are murdered and she is the one who discovers their dead bodies in a hotel room, Nikki finally lets Jac know the truth – or most of it – but it’s awhile before Jac feels he can trust her.
What’s puzzling to Jac is who was responsible for Damia’s death, and for seemingly protecting him and Peri at other times, like when two thugs try to start a fight with them in a restaurant and get shot by someone who is bald headed and an expert marksman. Jac knew only one person like that, the Russian assassin Garth Moska, but he supposedly died trying to blow up a ship they both were in during a fight with Jac. Jac barely escaped with his life, and there were no reports of any other survivors, but the surveillance they’re under and the expert marksmanship of whomever it is that’s trailing them suggests that the rumors of Moska’s demise have been, like Mark Twain’s, greatly exaggerated.
Golden Conspiracy is a remarkable debut novel that should appeal to anyone who loves action-packed, suspenseful mysteries. There’s already a sequel in the works, Golden Legacy, and the first chapter of it is included at the end of this novel. I’m anxiously awaiting its publication, so I can read more about the adventures of Jac and Peri. If the second novel is as good or better than the first one in this new series, Golden Legacy will be very good, indeed. If you like action-filled, edge-of-your-seat mysteries, I strongly urge you to check out Golden Conspiracy today!
A Jacsen Kidd Mystery
By: Robert James Glider