Finding the Inca’s lost City of Gold would be the discovery of a lifetime. But failing could mean her death…
Archaeologist Matthew Connor and his friends Cal and Robyn are finally home after a dangerous retrieval expedition in India. While they succeeded in obtaining the priceless Pandu artifact they sought, it almost cost them their lives. Still, Matthew is ready for the next adventure. Yet when new intel surfaces indicating the possible location of the legendary City of Gold, Matthew is hesitant to embark on the quest.
Not only is the evidence questionable but it means looking for the lost city of Paititi far away from where other explorers have concentrated their efforts. As appealing as making the discovery would be, it’s just too risky. But when Cal’s girlfriend, Sophie, is abducted by Matthew’s old nemesis who is dead-set on acquiring the Pandu statue, Matthew may be forced into action. Saving Sophie’s life means either breaking into the Royal Ontario Museum to steal the relic or offering up something no one in his or her right mind can refuse–the City of Gold.
Now Matthew and his two closest friends have to find a city and a treasure that have been lost for centuries. And they only have seven days to do it. As they race against the clock, they quickly discover that the streets they seek aren’t actually paved with gold, but with blood.
Even if nothing else untoward happened in City of Gold, it would be a great story. Archaeologist Matthew Connor (whose father happens to be the mayor of Toronto) hides behind an Indiana Jones-style adventurer persona. Not even his father knows the one retrieving these amazing treasures for the local museums is his son. And he's getting a bit put out that the man is snubbing him by not showing up to the various openings. So he puts his right hand man on the job of finding this elusive character. Said right hand man is his son's major domo, who also helps to choose and organize the expeditions.
But then, one previous trip to India comes back to haunt Matthew and his associates. The person they beat out for the treasure on that trip kidnaps Matthew's friend Cal's girlfriend, Sophie, and give the team 7 days to find and deliver the fabled 'city of gold'. Yeah, sure, no problem! The bad guys send two people along on the expedition, and a couple of locals in Central American join in as well. The number of double (and higher) crosses are as numerous as the leaves in the jungle. The number, and genius of the booby traps along the way does not cease to astound this reader.
City of Gold is a very well-rounded and thrilling adventure. It's got the 'fun-mystery' part of Matthew's shadow identity, and the seriousness of the kidnapping and a high-pressure mission to find the ransom. What you get is a near-perfect mix...heart-pounding escapades and near-misses, balanced by moments of - if not levity, at least a temporary release of the pressure cooker.
And if you like this type of story, there is great news. City of Gold is the first of a series of books featuring Matthew Connor. I know I'm looking forward to the next installment!
MEET THE AUTHOR
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
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INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN ARNOLD
What inspired you to write City of Gold?
A while back, I was searching for an action-adventure book to read, and I quickly noticed that most stories in the genre start off at a point long ago in history with people who never enter the story again after an initial prologue. But I wanted to read something more in the vein of Indiana Jones, that started in the present day, with action right from the start that just keeps going. Who doesn’t remember the boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is running for his life? Now, that’s what I’m going for!
You are primarily a mystery author. Why did you decide to write an action adventure?
I’m not sure whether I actually decided or was simply inspired. It is such a mysterious place, and people can’t seem to decide whether the city is fact or legend. The child in all of us wants to believe that a place like the City of Gold exists, but the grown-up in us tends to squash that curiosity. So when mine was piqued, I wanted to try my hand at going on an adventure along with my characters.
Many people have written about the Inca’s lost City of Gold. Why did you choose to write about it?
I chose to write about this particular legend because I find it absolutely fascinating! A city made of gold and treasure beyond imagining? How could I resist? I studied and researched to the point of obsession, and I even wished to be an explorer myself so I could set out in search of the city.
In fiction, the City of Gold is referred to by many names. The most common is El Dorado. But El Dorado actually referred to a ritual, not a place. Paititi is the true name for the lost City of Gold. Paititi translates to “city of the jaguar,” “all white and shiny,” and “white gold.” Many stories have emerged about the city and explorers have set out in search of it throughout South America, many losing their lives.
I examined the history of the city and explored the area on Google Earth. Plucking clues from different reference materials, I picked a spot where I think Paititi might actually be located. But who knows? What I do know is every story written about Paititi is unique and stands alone, and because Paititi hasn’t been discovered (yet?), there is a lot of room for play for a fiction writer.
What were some challenges you faced while writing the book?
As a mystery author who specializes in police procedurals, I found it hard to let myself go. With my regular genre, there are procedures that I need to follow. I need to know how real-life detectives and FBI agents would handle an investigation, how the forensics work, et cetera. So when it came to writing about what is, at this point, a fictional city, it was hard to open my creative mind. It almost felt like I had to literally discover the city in order to write about it. But with all the research and resources on Paititi—and some of it conflicting—I had to decide for myself what bits to incorporate into my story. I had to remind myself that I’m a storyteller, not a professor.
Tell us about the characters.
Twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Connor is the son of Toronto’s mayor, and while he’s educated in archeology, you won’t find him on excavations. His passion is hunting down treasure and legends the world has all but forgotten. While he feels the need to hide his true occupation from his father, this secret affects more than only him. Matthew’s two closest friends, Robyn and Cal, travel the globe with him and put their lives at risk to secure priceless artifacts.
What can readers expect from this book and this series?
This book and series is not your everyday action adventure. In fact, it’s been designed for the mystery lover. For example, in City of Gold, there is a kidnapping, a ransom, and a police investigation, as well as lots of action-packed adventure and exploration itself.
The series will follow that same kind of trajectory, with Matthew, Cal, and Robyn continuing to unearth treasures around the world. Think a modern-day Indiana Jones.
Does this book contain a special message for your readers?
Yes! I want people to believe again and realize that all things are possible. I want people to play more, explore his or her inner child, and live lives of passion and joy. When things are dark in our lives, what does it hurt to hope? Somewhere along the line of human history, it became foolish to believe in something without first seeing it with our own eyes. But what if we gave ourselves over to optimism and positivity? Maybe we’re afraid of being hurt or disappointed, but what harm does it really do to believe? I can speak from personal experience that keeping a positive attitude only added to my life and brought joy. While the end result to my situation didn’t bring happiness, it didn’t hurt any more because I held a positive attitude throughout the experience. In fact, I believe it even made miracles during that time possible.
So, if you’re looking for something to believe in, or if you just want to sit back and fall into an adventure, I encourage you to pick up a copy of City of Gold today.
Video on the painting for the cover:
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.)
This book helps me fulfill the following 2016 reading challenges:
52 Books in 52 Weeks
Mount TBR Reading Challenge