The Fourth Codex

Robert Houston, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-395-43097-2
Quintus Paz, an agent for the U.S. Customs Service, has had just about enough. He's feeling old, and his work with the service has turned into more of a paper-pushing desk job than he can tolerate. With two weeks to go before taking a lucrative security position, he gets a phone call from an ex-lover, Maritza de la Torre, who works at the national archeological institute in Mexico. An ancient and priceless Mayan document, a codex, is missing; once deciphered, it may well rewrite the history of Latin America; and de la Torre needs Paz (who was once Customs attache there, and has plenty of contacts) to find it. Deciding to end his clareer with a bang rather than a whimper, he flies to Mexico. His investigations take him to Veracruz, where the codex was found, and into his memories: his youth, his ex-wife and son, postings and assignments around the world, his old friends and former lovers. Paz gets into serious trouble on both sides of the border while rooting out blackmail, corruption and big-time drug-dealing. Although the plot is mostly unbelievable and some characters are flat and stereotypical, Houston (Cholo, Ararat) has a love for Mexico that shines here (despite questionable archeological hypotheses), and a likable hero, Pazwho makes mistakes from time to time, and doesn't win all of his fights. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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