The Spear of Destiny, also called the Lance of Longinus, is a mythical item. A spear some six feet in length, it is said to date from roughly 30 BC where it was used to stab Jesus himself during the crucifixion. It made an appearance during the First Crusade at the siege of Antioch where it brought them victory. Later, it was brought to France where, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, it vanished into the mists of time and memory. During WWII, the Nazis were known to loot valuable treasures — art, gems, religious items, and items of purported paranormal powers — such as a Picasso painting recently seen in a social media post, stolen from a Jewish family and now being sold on the black market. Is it possible that among this lost treasure, someone, somehow managed to find the Spear of Destiny?
Caught up in the adventure are Alois and Marton, drawn by the Picasso, as well as Joel and Freddie (aka Morrel and Morcerf) who are tracking down black market art thieves, which would be much easier if the boys hadn’t mucked up the whole deal and nearly gotten themselves arrested. So now the four of them are on the same team, tracking down Nazi loot. However, there’s a problem. Not one, but two groups of Neo-Nazis are hot in pursuit, both for the Spear and for something more deadly: Field Marshal Eric von Einem’s copy of the formula for The Pale Death.
It’s a race against time and to the victor goes the world.
This is the sixth book in the Five Points series, a set of standalone mystery and adventure novels with a loosely connected group of friends, family, rivals, and romances. Think of this as a cross between the old children’s adventure stories (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys) mixed with Indiana Jones. It’s plots within plots, hidden rooms, mysterious journals, and history lessons all wrapped up into one book.
There are two main romances in this story, both established couples. Joel and Freddie — who were showcased in book two of the series — are separated at the moment by work and politics. Freddie has recently declined the crown of his small European country, but is still working as a diplomat cum spy, while Joel is a party planner living in the States. Both have thoughts about marriage, but neither Joel nor Freddie seem to be on the right page, or so they think. When Freddie needs Joel’s help, Joel drops everything to get to him, and the two men might have a chance to talk about their future if people would stop shooting at them.
Alois and Marton are the next generation of adventurers, both fresh out of college, and neither of them quite telling each other the truth. They haven’t been together long, still living in the honeymoon phase … or were, until a problem with the Picasso reveals some difficult secrets. Like the fact that, however much he likes him — or even loves him — Marton was using Alois’ name and position to get him to the black market auction so he could nab the Picasso. Alois, whose mother will soon be queen, also has to deal with his new rank as prince, and what that means for his future .. a future he thought he’d be sharing with Marton.
As an adventure story, this books works, and works well. It hits all the right beats; the heroes are suitably good with rubber bullets and stun guns so they don’t actually kill anyone, and the villains are all dastardly no-goodnicks with real guns, toxic poison used on hapless church goers, and human trafficking. From France to Italy with kidnappings and rescue attempts, it’s just a bumpy ride of a story. As a romance, it falls a bit flat. The characters are sketches and ideas without being fully developed, and much of the attention in the book is spent on the complex and convoluted plot. I never really got a sense of any character other than that this one was doing action X, and that one doing action Y. Personality-wise, they all felt very similar, and their voices were somewhat indistinguishable.
I recommend this if you’re in the mood for a good, rollicking adventure story and a fun little mystery. The writing and the pacing were good, I just, personally, wanted a little bit more character development.