Monday, May 12, 2014

Dragon's Triangle

 Dragon's Triangle

 Dragon's Triangle   

Star emoticon out of 5

Book description
Maggie Riley has settled into her new life in Thailand, working aboard her sailboat and doing her best to leave the past behind. When she receives a letter from a World War II vet claiming to have served with her grandfather who went missing in action, Riley is once again pulled into the intrigue that tore her family apart and led to the disappearance of her former search partner—and the love of her life.
Armed with the secret code her grandfather left behind, Riley must head to the Philippines to hunt for a mysterious shipwreck, uncover the truth of Yamashita’s gold, and find the answers to old questions about her own family.

I got this book as one of the choices in the advance copy Kindle First, a freebie program for Amazon Prime members. I chose it for its Philippine setting and the Yamashita treasure story line.

The thriller starts good and I was actually loving it but the narrative goes downhill as soon as the antagonist, Elijah, is introduced and the story never recovers. His character, almost cartoonish and another cardboard cutout, is never fully developed. The only thing that's memorable about him is his thousand $ Lucchese cowboy boots. If he were not tall and buff, I'd imagine him as Yosemite Sam with all the posturing specially with a katana, but nothing spectacular happens except once with a minor character near the end of the novel. I was expecting a bloody confrontation but the action I was hoping for instantly pops like a soap bubble.

The novel is supposed to be a thriller with a side of romance but the thrill dissipates with page after page of touristy descriptions of market goods and dark alleys in Bangkok and the constant appearance of Riley's iPhone and the character Irv's dentures. As I progressed with the novel, I got more annoyed specially with the author's description (through Elijah) of Filipino and other Asian women as "submissive" in comparison with strong American women such as Riley, who don't flinch at the sight of a 7-inch double-edged knife. There is a total of 3 Filipino women in the book, one of them is a prostitute, one is an underage hotel chambermaid (the author did not bother to research that 18 is the legal age for Filipinos to work in hotels, department stores, etc.), and the last one is hot, sexy, and intelligent super-duper woman. There is a reason why she is so and it has to do with her genes. I'm not usually sensitive about these things but misrepresentation of a people specially women is not cool, even in works of fiction. The irritating narrative continues with the appearance of the late Philippine dictator and thief Ferdinand Marcos as a guerilla fighting the Japanese. Whaaat??? 1 star for you then!!!

I discovered that the book's story and characters seem to "borrow" heavily or maybe take without attribution to [the word I'm trying to describe here starts with P] from a conspiracy theory non-fiction book called GOLD WARRIORS written by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave. I came across this book months ago when I read another book about Yamashita's treasures. The main theme they share of course is locating the treasures hidden in various caves in the Philippines, the missing submarine, the missing maps, etc. What is really striking resemblance and almost lifted from GOLD WARRIORS is the novel's Japanese prince's manservant Ben, the name of the Filipino assistant to the Japanese in charge of the maps in the non-fiction book. In the novel, the gold relic containing pieces of coded papers is given to Ben by the fictional Japanese prince, no logical reason is given, BTW. In GOLD WARRIORS, copies of the map were given to the Filipino assistant by his Japanese boss. There is also a Norwegian psychic in DRAGON'S TRIANGLE and in GOLD WARRIORS, the American psychic hired to locate the missing maps has a Scandinavian name. Coincidences? I have my doubts.

My advice: Read if you must but it's a long-ish novel and not worth your time and money. You've been warned.

The one star is for effort. The book is BAD but doesn't deserve a no-star which is reserved for the UGLY.

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