The Columbus Affair by Steve Berry #review

Who was Christopher Columbus? Could he have been a converso, a convert who remained a secret Jew?

That’s the intriguing question posed by this thriller as different people search for Columbus’s lost gold mine on Jamaica. Or is something else buried there, something explosive that has been hidden from history for over 500 years?

Columbus Affair coverThe Columbus Affair
by Steve Berry
Suspense Thriller
Ballantyne, 2012

In Florida, Tom Sagan is a disgraced reporter who has spent the last eight years living in obscurity, ghost writing for other authors. Depressed and estranged from his only daughter, he has decided to end his own life. But before he he can blow his brains out, someone comes to the door and upends his world. The stranger, Zachariah Simon, informs Tom that he has kidnapped Tom’s daughter Alle and will kill her if Tom refuses to exhume his father’s body. Worried about Alle, Tom agrees and learns that his father, a devout Jew, was known as The Levite and took secrets to the grave with him. Simon is an Austrian millionaire and a fanatical supporter of Israel in search of buried treasure and he believes Tom’s father was the only one who knows where it is hidden. Treasure that will change the course of Middle Eastern history.

Meanwhile, in Jamaica we meet Bené Rowe, a crime boss with a sometimes active conscience who has been coerced by the US government into working with The Simon, as he thinks of Zachariah. Bené is a Maroon, a descendant of runaway slaves who fought the British. Through Bené’s POV, we learn a lot about Jamaican history, including Columbus’s connection to the island.

The action moves from Florida and Jamaica to Vienna and Prague before all three men meet for a final confrontation in Jamaica.

This is a really fun thriller. All the characters are flawed, but only Tom is truly sympathetic. Alle has major issues with her father that lead her to make some disastrously bad decisions. Bené is complex and fascinating, but not entirely likable. Zachariah Simon is also complex, but twisted and makes for a good villain.

July is Beach Reads month at my readers group, so what’s better than a thriller? I checked it out as a downloadable book from the local library. Your local library may offer free downloadable books, too. Check it out!

I recommend The Columbus Affair to readers who enjoy thoughtful thrillers with a basis in history. If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you might enjoy The Columbus Affair, too.

What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments and be entered for my monthly drawing for a $15 Starbucks e-gift card.