Dr. Ethan Storey is content with his life. He and his girlfriend of 10 years live on a boat in the San Francisco area and he's a tenured history professor at San Francisco State. One Sunday, his girlfriend, Kay, mentions the large Williams Institute they pass on their regular walks is for sale and having an open house. Ethan doesn't know it, but everything is about to change. Soon Ethan is cataloging the library full of books and manuscripts from the 16th and 17th centuries and people are dying.
In the early 20th century, a gold plate was discovered in the area, thought to be placed there by Sir Francis Drake, claiming the area he believed to be the beginning of the Northwest Passage in the name of Queen Elizabeth. The plate was lost and then found again only to be named as a fake. But there's a rumor that Drake's lost log books reside in the very library Ethan is working in and finding those books could mean everything to the family holding the plate.
Gripping plot, baffling mystery and intense history keep the pages turning in one of the best novels of this type I've ever read. While the historical-item-mystery-journey genre has increasingly come to be more popcorn than substance, it's refreshing to find an author that does it right. The pace is generally on target and the writing exemplary. The nautical sections were a bit too in depth for a non-boat person, but there was enough real plot peppered in to make it bearable. All-in-all, a great read I would recommend to anyone who loves a good mystery.
THE TWENTY YEAR ITCH by Howard Owen
5 weeks ago