In the heart of Panama, a volcanic lake feeds a serpentine river—its stone banks laid by the Inca, who took back the gold and jewels plundered from them by the conquistadors. Legend has it that the Twice-Stolen Treasure has been buried for centuries in the Panamanian jungle. Discovering it means surviving the unpredictable black waters of the River of Ruin....
It begins at a Paris auction house, with a favor granted by an old high school friend to geologist Philip Mercer: the opportunity to buy a rare diary written during the French attempt at digging the Panama Canal. But Mercer isn’t the only one who wants it. Three Chinese assassins have been dispatched to get it, forcing Mercer into a subterranean game of cat and mouse that takes him from the hellish maze of l’empire de la mort and through the sewers of Paris.
Mercer realizes he has uncovered an intricate Chinese plot to trigger a deadly shift in the world’s balance of power. At stake is control of the canal, recently handed over to the government of Panama by the United States. Only Philip Mercer—with help from beautiful U.S. Army officer Lauren Vanik, a cell of tough French Foreign Legion commandos, and a crusty eighty-year-old retired sea captain named Harry White—can stop them.
Jam-packed with action and larger-than-life heroics, DuBrul's latest (after Pandora's Curse) sets geologist Philip Mercer on a course to save the world once again. This time he's in Panama, where he uncovers a Chinese plot to bomb the canal with nuclear weapons in order to strong-arm the U.S. into allowing China's takeover of Taiwan. Though teeming with up-to-the-minute technology (such as an experimental but deadly long-range cannon), the novel possesses a surprising Cold War perspective toward China. DuBrul demonstrates his knowledge of everything from geology to mechanics through prose that is at times too technical for the lay reader, but he lends his protagonist a welcome touch of emotional complexity. Mercer's softer side surfaces in his dealings with sexy heroine Lauren Vanik, a U.S. army officer, and, to a different extent, when his recollections of an old mentor prevent him from succumbing to diabolical Chinese torture. Despite these introspective moments, this is an adventure story at heart, and the action scenes come fast and furious, in sewers, factories, giant ships and more. It's evident from the outset that Mercer and his team will come out on top, but the fun is watching DuBrul untangle his own skillfully woven knots.