In Jerry C. Blanton’s slim mystery, a private detective discovers how far one man will go for a chance at eternal life.
Sergio Mishioki, an anthropologist and museum assistant in Peru, has stolen a famous pair of mummies, Romeo y Julieta, that were about to go on display in Peru along with the treasures buried with them. The Peruvian government believes that Mishioki has stolen the artifacts on behalf of a private collector in Florida.
When a government diplomat hires Buck Jaspers, a well-known Floridian private detective, to find Mishioki, the cat-and-mouse game begins. Buck uses Mishioki’s expensive personal hobbies—race cars, fine Peruvian food, and women—to narrow the field. Soon he has located his quarry, but the question remains: Who is Mishioki’s mysterious employer and what is his interest in the valuable mummies?
The story moves smoothly from start to finish. It’s a pleasant diversion, but the downside is that nothing much happens. The author is meticulous in outlining how Buck conducts his search, which readers will find interesting, but the book lacks any real tension or suspense.
Additionally, some of the events are puzzling: For example, when Buck hires a young female college student to help him find Mishioki, a known womanizer, at a nightclub, Mishioki takes the bait. Yet just as the tension begins to ratchet up, Buck insinuates himself into Mishioki’s world with a stilted paternalistic conversation, warning him off. Another curious scene comes after Buck goes to elaborate preparations to sneak onto the wealthy owner’s estate, but then stops to take flash pictures of exotic orchids to show his wife, alerting the guard.
Despite such drawbacks, Buck is a likeable character and the author knows his Floridian territory. For readers interested in spending an hour or two in a warm weather locale, this slim volume could be a welcome respite on a long winter’s night.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.