Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski

I wrapped up The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski a couple weeks ago. It's another Payne and Jones action on the trail of history and treasure story. This one centers on the possibility of the existence of Ludwig II, the Swan King, and his hidden treasure. Some of which may be property of foreign nations. Most of the action in the book takes place in Bavaria, with references and wonderful descriptions of Schloss Neuschwanstein, Schloss Linderhof, and several other castles and buildings ordered built by Ludwig. The story starts off fun enough with Payne and Jones asked to look at a bunker discovered by old friend Kaiser, a prior service supply soldier stationed in Europe who know ran an underground supply exchange across the globe from Germany, that contained gold and art long since lost to World War II. An eager foot soldier for Kaiser's main rival notices the commotion in the forest by the bunker and sees this as an opportunity to move up in his organization. Unfortunately for him Payne and Jones react well to adversity. Unfortunately for the story this is where the violence seemed to occur for the sake of violence. Kaiser's main rival Mueller, and his organization learn Kaiser was present for the commotion along with Petr Ulster from the Ulster Archives. Interest piqued but without really knowing what Kaiser found Mueller has his men chase Payne and Jones to the Linderhof palace. Payne and Jones can still handle themselves even with their backs to the wall so the confrontation at the Linderhof Palace doesn't really last long. Ultimately Payne, Jones, Petr Ulster, and a woman called Heidi (who in typical fashion is attractive and flirtatious with Payne) they met at the King's House on Schachen, eventually follow the clues found to a jeweler in Munich who'd been taught to wait for someone to show up with the right information so he could pass on the crown made for Ludwig II. Payne and Jones enlist another old friend, Nick Dial from Interpol, to help clean up the trail of bloodshed before wrapping the action up. All in all it was a fun quick read with the typical action and predictable banter. However the banter at times seemed too generic and contrived and the violence seemed needless. This book seemed more of a springboard into stories featuring Kaiser and Mueller. Not the best Payne and Jones but still a fun read.