Tom Harper was born in 1977 and grew up in West Germany, Belgium, and America before returning to England to study history at Lincoln College, Oxford. His conclusion to the short story "Death by the Invisible Hand" was published in "The Economist" in 1997, and his novels have been translated into twelve languages. He lives in England with his family.
Fans of Harper's superb historical trilogy set during the Crusades (The Mosaic of Shadows, etc.) are likely to be disappointed by this middling thriller, yet another variation on the Indiana Jones theme. In 1947, the British, Americans and Russians are all looking for the legendary shield of Achilles because it may contain "Element 61," a chemical element then missing from the periodic table that could be used in weapons. C.S. Grant, a British adventurer in need of a government pardon, agrees to help recover a murdered archeologist's notebook that may hold clues to the shield's whereabouts. A number of stock supporting characters, including an attractive female archeologist and an elderly scholar, accompany Grant to Crete in search of answers. While Harper offers some interesting discussions about the origins of Homer's poems, some readers may weary of such formulaic plot elements as a slow-motion romance, gunfights, hairbreadth escapes and the loss of a key clue. (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
British author Harper (Knights of the Cross; Mosaic of Shadows) takes us back to the 1940s in this action-packed thriller. When the Germans invade Crete and pillage the site of an archaeological dig, the archaeologist passes his notebook to Sam Grant, a former special-ops soldier, for safekeeping. Six years later, Grant is conscripted by his previous employer to find a great treasure that includes Achilles' shield. With assistance from an Oxford professor and an old flame, Grant forms a team to decipher the notebook, translate some ancient tablets found at the dig, and discover the location of the shield. Perhaps to impart a degree of authenticity to the dialog, Harper gives one operative a vocabulary of coarse language that permeates nearly every sentence he speaks, while another uses terms that may have been standard for the period in which the book is set but to modern readers register as offensive ethnic epithets. Nevertheless, the novel seems well researched as it pertains to Greek history, culture, and myth and the true-life Troy discovery. Fans of Homer and the genre should enjoy it. Recommended for popular fiction collections.-Laura A.B. Cifelli, Fort Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.