James Twining's first novel, The Double Eagle, was a fast paced, enjoyable conspiracy/caper story. It introduced us to retired art thief Tom Kirk, his former fence/current business partner Archie and FBI Agent Jennifer Browne.
His second novel, The Black Sun, had less caper and more conspiracy, with Tom Kirk caught up in a plot involving lost Nazi treasure. It was also less enjoyable, lacking some of the spark that characterised his debut, although it remained a solid and entertaining thriller.
The Gilded Seal however, is very much a return to Twining's Double Eagle form. In fact in many ways it surpasses his debut and could easily be characterised as the author's best book so far.
Essentially a tale of two halves, it reunites Kirk and Agent Browne and thrusts them into a myriad of different interlinked plots revolving around stolen artworks, forged artworks and hidden artworks. Brought into the mix are corrupt art dealers, mercenaries turned art thieves, self-serving law officers with political aspirations, forgers of fine art and Japanese mobsters. At the centre of it all lies the world's most famous painting; The Mona Lisa.
Its an intricate plot full of twists and turns, which builds up to an explosive set piece robbery. Then, in an audacious but very effective move, Twining pulls several significant twists out of the bag that leaves the reader questioning everything that has happed until that moment and sends the whole book spinning off in a new and unforseen direction.
Its all done with great pacing and clever plotting. It also refuses to take any of the simple options open to it. Characters remain true to the personalities they have been given and motives even amongst the story's heroes retain an element of grey. There is no resorting to cliche or having characters act against type simply to keep the story moving along.
It manages to do the latter without any artificial assistance. From the first page the story moves at a lightning pace, both figuratively and literally; flitting from Spain, to Scotland, to New York, to London, to Paris and on to Cuba. This, along with well written action, keeps the excitement palpable and constant throughout.
Are there any weaknesses? Yes, and they're the sort that usually aflict novels of this type. Outside of three or four recurring central characters, who have benefitted from two or three novels to grow and develop, most of the individuals featured in the book are little more than one dimensional sketches or glorified plot devices. There are also a few whiffs of clambering on Dan Brown's band wagon with a plot that revolves a work by Lenardo DaVinci. In the books defense however, the former doesn't detract from the appeal of the book and is to be expected in a book of this sort. To draw comparisons with DaVinci Code would also be unfair, as this is a very different book in terms of content, style and focus. It is, I have to say, also far superior to Brown's blockbuster.
This could well be Twining's real break through bestseller, thrusting him further into the literary limelight. If it does then it is entirely deserved, because as a novel of its type The Gilded Seal really is that good.
The Gilded Seal Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
©2007 James Twining (P)2007 W F Howes Ltd
- Get this audiobook free then 1 credit each month, good for any title you like - yours to keep, even if you cancel
- Listen all you want to the Plus Catalogue—a selection of thousands of Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, including exclusive series
- Exclusive member-only deals
- $16.45 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime
Sold and delivered by Audible, an Amazon company
|Listening Length||12 hours and 48 minutes|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||15 April 2008|
|Publisher||W. F. Howes Ltd|
|Best Sellers Rank||
184,767 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
2,015 in Action Thriller & Suspense Fiction
4,228 in Crime Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
9,027 in Crime Action & Adventure
4.2 out of 5
36 global ratings
Review this product
Top reviews from other countries
A Great CaperReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 November 2007
22 people found this helpful
Good but not fantasticReviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 October 2017
Not as good as previous stories
Five starsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2013
Good read again from James Twining so much going on through different threads and twists and turns, liked the fact that Tom wasn't portrayed as infallible and didn't always see what was in front of him
expected more than card board cut out derivitive cliches.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 December 2015
expected more than card board cut out derivitive cliches. Just an ok read a bit to comic book action bite
Mr Malcolm Wright
James twiningReviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 February 2016
Really liked the plot, characters and the suspense.
Looking forward to reading the next book
Looking forward to reading the next book