Back in March, I mentioned David Dodge's The Red Tassel. I said then that I was eager for the reprint of Plunder of the Sun, which I knew was coming from Hard Case Crime this month. And here it is, with a Robert McGinnis cover that's probably my favorite of the Hard Case covers so far. And the book lives up to the cover. Al Colby (who also appears in The Red Tassel) is hired to smuggle something into Peru from Chile. The something turns out to be the key to finding the lost treasure of the Incas, Atahualpa's Ransom. There are plenty of people who would kill to find a treasure like that, and of course Colby gets mixed up with them. He also gets mixed up with a couple of beautiful women and a scheming scholar or two. Dodge's writing is smooth, and the plotting is top notch. But what interested me, since I was in Peru only a few months ago, is the local color. I visited some of the places Dodge describes so well, and it was a kick to read about them in this book. They haven't changed much in the 45 years or so since the novel first appeared. And neither has the poverty of some of the people in Cuzco, who are living now much the way they did then. Al Colby experiences it in a much more personal way than I did.
One final little bit of interest (to me) is that I, too, once wrote a novel about Atahualpa's treasure and its recovery (in Ecuador, rather than Peru). That novel was bought and paid for, but it will never see print. Neither will my novel about the Viking treasure ship found in California, bought by the same publisher. It's a long story. Ask me about it when you see me if you have a few minutes to spare.