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Author: Andy McDermott

Title: Empire of Gold

Publisher: Headline

Paperback: 583 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7553-8324-5

Price: £6.99

Publication Date: 26/05/2011

You would have thought that seven novels and married life might have slowed Andy McDermott’s series protagonists Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase down a bit, but that’s certainly not the case if Empire of Gold is anything to go by. From Afghanistan to New York to Glastonbury to the depths of the Amazon rain forest, the action is pretty much relentless as the bullets and punches fly and Nina and Eddie [with a motley crew of friends and colleagues] search for the mythical lost Incan settlement of El Dorado – the fabled city of gold.

The plot, as you would expect of a McDermott thriller, is excellent and moves along at a great page-turning pace. At times the story does seem completely far-fetched, but rather than detract from the reading experience it actually heightens the reader’s sense of escapism and brings to mind Indiana Jones [apart from the fourth ‘addition’ to the franchise] and Tomb Raider [the games rather than the terrible films!].

Empire of Gold also sees McDermott focusing on Eddie and his background and it works really well. We learn more about Eddie’s past and his relationship with Mac, as well as about his time in the SAS in Afghanistan. And just for good measure his grandmother makes a welcome return and there’s a rather frosty meeting of the Chases as Eddie’s father makes an appearance. What I really like about the Nina Wilde / Eddie Chase series is that McDermott isn’t afraid to show his central characters in bad light on occasion. They are drawn in a ‘warts and all’ fashion in this book – at certain points they are difficult, obtuse and not always likeable [much like anyone], and this adds depth to their characterization and makes them more human for the reader.

If I had a slight gripe it would be that on occasion the action is a little over powering and skates on the edge of turning this novel from archaeological thriller to action thriller, but that is just a personal preference. And in future books I would definitely like to see more of Macy Sharif in the field – her banter with Eddie is great and she almost steals the limelight from Nina [and I certainly detect a flirty undercurrent between Macy and Eddie – tsk tsk!!].

Without giving anything away I was also really liked that the self-contained ‘closure’ that usually ends McDermott’s Chase / Wilde novels is absent in Empire of Gold. Instead the book ends with a cliffhanger moment that leaves it perfectly poised for the next book in the series, Temple of the Gods.

Empire of Gold is filled with exotic locations, death, destruction and crazy, pacy action, plenty of humour and one-liners [mainly from Eddie Chase – of course!], corrupt generals, drug dealers and ruthless mercenaries. It’s a true blockbuster rollercoaster ride from start to finish – the pace so quick and the action so cinematic that you can almost imagine it as a ride at an amusement park! Popcorn escapism at its very best.
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